New Zealand Screen Summit to Tackle Diversity, Women's Rights

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'Mulan' director Niki Caro

Niki Caro, Philippa Boyens, Charles D. King and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will headline the global screen inclusion summit, which will take place October 3-4 in Auckland.

Mulan director Niki Caro and Mary Shelley helmer Haifaa Al-Mansour, Lord of The Rings writer and The Hobbit producer Philippa Boyens and Charles D. King, founder and CEO of production company Macro, will be joined by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden as key presenters at a global screen inclusion summit to take place in New Zealand in October, organizers said Tuesday.

Hosted by the New Zealand Film Commission and Women in Film and Television International, with support from The Walt Disney Studios, The Power of Inclusion Summit will look at the changes enveloping the industry through discussion of issues, including how distribution models are being disrupted, how the boundaries of storytelling are being pushed and how the technology landscape is widening — all with a focus on representation, gender and diversity.

Other participants will include The Black List founder Franklin Leonard, social change in media expert Stacy L. Smith and The Breaker Upperers star Ana Scotney (Ngati Tawhaki). Geena Davis and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media will also support the event.

NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan said the summit “demonstrates New Zealand’s international leadership in women’s rights and reinforces New Zealand’s commitment to equality in the industry." She added: "The summit will be a dynamic forum for expanding the opportunities for real global connection that comes with the rising wave of underrepresented voices now breaking through old screen industry norms and barriers. In hosting the summit the New Zealand voice will figure in the expanding global screen economy."

Cathleen Taff, president of theatrical distribution, franchise management and business and audience insights at The Walt Disney Studios, said: "Our studio has enjoyed working with the New Zealand film community on several films, and we’re proud to be part of this important summit which will advance the global conversation around filmmaking, media and equality.”

The summit follows the recent announcement of successful applicants for $850,000 (NZ$1.25 million) in the NZFC’s 125 fund, an investment fund to celebrate 125 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote, promoting New Zealand’s international leadership in women’s rights. The fund was open to dramatic features in any genre, with an investment of $850,000 each for projects where the director and at least one other key creative were women.

Three features received funding: Hawk Mountain, by writer-director Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) and producers Georgina Conder and Ainsley Gardiner (The Breaker Upperers, She Shears); The Justice of Bunny King, written by Sophie Henderson (Fantail), directed by Gaysorn Thavat (Brave Donkey) and produced by Emma Slade (The Changeover); and Poppy, written and directed by Linda Niccol (Second Hand Wedding) and produced by Susan Parker.

The Power of Inclusion summit will take place in Auckland, New Zealand, Oct. 3-4.