John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Waititi upset as NZ film awards cancelled

Taika Waititi wants to celebrate filming. Photo / Martin Sykes
Taika Waititi wants to celebrate filming. Photo / Martin Sykes

Taika Waititi is gutted that the New Zealand film industry will not stage an awards ceremony this year.

Industry leaders say they simply can't afford to hold a ceremony after their controversial split from the television awards this year.

Despite Kiwi films achieving at the world's major awards ceremonies, including the Academy Awards, locally shot productions such as Two Little Boys, starring Bret McKenzie, will not receive recognition at home.

"It's a bit of a shame because it's nice to celebrate any achievements," said Waititi, who smashed domestic box-office records for his 2010 movie Boy. "It's such an achievement making a film and finishing one, I think to be able to celebrate that even just by going out with other filmmakers is quite a nice thing."

The local industry's lack of cash was in stark contrast to the budgets of Emperor and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The combined budget of these films, both shot in New Zealand this year, were estimated at more than $300m.

The film makers split from the Aotearoa Film & Television Awards, amid complaints that the TV stars were hogging the limelight.

Screen Directors' Guild executive director Anna Cahill said the film industry had discussions since the split but no firm progress was made. "We would've liked to continue but we were too stretched resources-wise, in terms of man hours in the office."

Cahill said it would take about eight months to organise an awards comparable to the AFTAs. Even if a major sponsor wanted to bankroll a 2012 film function, it was probably too late, Cahill said.

"I just don't think it's likely that there are going to be any this year."

NZ Film Commission spokeswoman Gina Rogers said the commission would support a film awards night, but leadership in organising the event was needed.

"If someone wants to lead on this then we're very keen to get behind them," Rogers said.

"We'd be keen to talk to them about providing support." This support could include logistical and financial backing.

Rogers said big awards functions offered the industry multiple benefits. "It celebrates New Zealand, it highlights New Zealand film, and it recognises excellence in New Zealand film."

The TV industry has already secured sponsors for an awards function in November.

- Herald on Sunday

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