What did WE think when James Cook landed?

After two hundred and fifty years, the view from the shore will finally come to the big screen. Australia and New Zealand are joining forces to bring the voices of First Nations peoples to the story of James Cook’s maiden voyage to the Pacific.

Screen Australia and the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) have formed eight First Nation teams from both nations who are creating a joint anthology feature, Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply– entitled Ngā Pouwhenua in New Zealand. The film will highlight First Nations perspective on the 250th anniversary of Cook’s voyage.

Each team will contribute a chapter which will build the larger feature film. The teams and producers have attended a residential lab at Shark Island Institute in the NSW Kangaroo Valley to develop the film.

Screen Australia’s Head of Indigenous, Penny Smallacombe said the anthology is a rare opportunity for creative collaboration between Indigenous cultures from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

“I’m inspired by the experience and talent of the filmmakers selected to helm this project,” Ms Smallacombe said.

“These teams have presented exceptional concepts, with stories exploring the past, present and future, with humour and horror, sadness and joy, in response to who we are and how we continue to survive the colonial experience.”

“I’m excited by their storytelling styles and individual voices, and how they will complement each other to create a powerful anthology. This unique feature film will shine a light on us, as it should, in this moment in time.”

NZFC Chief Executive Officer Annabelle Sheehan has congratulated the successful teams and expressed her excitement to see how they transform their individual stories in to a single, shared vision.

“This is a unique opportunity for these filmmakers from Australia, New Zealand and across the Pacific to share their voices, stories and histories through examining the impact of Cook’s arrival to our region,” Ms Sheehan said.

Australian Mitchell Stanley and Bailey Mackey and Mia Henry-Teirney from New Zealand have been selected as co-producers and will work with teams to develop ideas and stay true to the overarching narrative.

Team members from Australia include:

  • Writer/director Beck Cole
  • Writer/director Samuel Paynter
  • Filmmaker Dena Curtis
  • Writer/director Danielle MacLean
  • Producer Anna Grieve
  • Animator Huni Bolliger
  • Writer/director Tracey Rigney

Team members from New Zealand include:

  • Television producer writer and director Tiraroa Debra Reweti
  • Producer Elise Francis
  • Writer/director Chantelle Burgoyne
  • Writer/director Renae Maihi
  • Director Richard Curtis
  • Writer, visual artist and director Tim Worrall
  • Actor, writer and director Mario Gaoa
  • Director Miki Magasiva

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