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Wanderings In The ‘Cultural Desert’ - Reflections Of A Great New Zealand Filmmaker

13 September 2004

In celebrating the voices and experiences of New Zealanders, Gaylene Preston has become one of this country’s finest filmmakers.  Now the Christchurch public have the chance to hear her speak about her life, her work and the culture that has shaped it, in the 2004 Carter Group Art Lecture.

The Carter Group and the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu will host Gaylene Preston at 7.30 pm on Thursday 22 July.  Her lecture, Wanderings in the ‘Cultural Desert’, provides insight into Gaylene’s passion for New Zealand and New Zealanders, and her determination to let people’s voices be heard.

Since returning to New Zealand from Britain in 1977, Gaylene has been writing, directing and producing some of New Zealand’s finest cinema features, television series and documentaries, many in partnership with producer Robin Laing.  Preston’s storytelling has a distinctly New Zealand flavour and a strong social message.  She firmly believes that the basic responsibility of New Zealand filmmakers is to make films for New Zealanders because, as she says, “If we don’t, no-one else will.”

“I have always been interested in looking at the edges of this little country in order to try to understand it for myself.”

Gaylene’s long list of successful films and documentaries include her debut feature Mr Wrong (1984), Ruby & Rata, Bread & Roses, War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us, Punitive Damage (as producer) and, her most recent film, Perfect Strangers, filmed on the West Coast of the South Island. 

Her work has been selected for most major film festivals in the world including Venice, Sundance, Toronto and London.  She has won 11 New Zealand Film Awards and international awards in France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Australia and the USA, including a Silver Clio and Mobius Award for outstanding direction of a commercial.

Gaylene was honoured by the NZ Arts Foundation, being made New Zealand’s first Filmmaker Laureate, and was appointed an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2002 for services to filmmaking.

Gaylene’s compassion and understanding of real life, real people, combined with her immense talent for portraying on film psychological reality, makes her a New Zealand film industry icon.

“It is the artists of New Zealand who will brand this country very clearly and very strongly in all its wonderful, terrible ways,” says Gaylene.

Gaylene Preston will be presenting the 2004 Carter Group Art Lecture in the Philip Carter Family Auditorium at 7.30pm on Thursday 22 July.  Tickets to this lecture are now fully subscribed.

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