A feature film that will be shot in Kāpiti has been granted funding from the New Zealand Film Commissions's 125 Fund.
Poppy, written and directed by Linda Niccol (Second Hand Wedding) and produced by Susan Parker, is about a young Down syndrome woman who assumes she's entitled to live her life like everyone else, yet the person she trusts most puts her in the 'disability' box, forcing her to take control of her destiny.
Launched in June this year, the 125 Fund is a unique investment fund for dramatic features in any genre.
Offering investment of $1.25 million each for up to two projects where the director and at least one other key creative is a woman, the fund was designed to encourage more women to submit funding applications.
New Zealand is celebrating 125 years of women's suffrage in this year.
"Susan and I are absolutely thrilled about the announcement and the support of our project from the commission," Linda said.
"It is wonderful to be recognised with the 125 Fund that celebrates courageous New Zealand female filmmakers."
She said the story would be "firmly set in film-friendly Kāpiti and will be shot here with the exception of the burnout segment which will be filmed in the Wairarapa".
"Casting will commence in the new year when we will start looking for the right actor to portray Poppy, and filming is scheduled for later in 2019."
Linda said the script was inspired by an early draft of a short film by collaborator Jeff Simmonds.
"I rewrote it into a short story and included it in my collection The Temperature of Water.
"The feature film version gathered momentum from there.
"It was further inspired by a wonderful young woman, Poppy Anderson, who I met locally.
"I've spent most of this year totally reworking the script and I'm very excited to move on to the directing stage of the project."
Two other films to receive the grant funding were:
Hawk Mountain by writer/director Loren Taylor (Eagle vs Shark) and producers Georgina Conder and Ainsley Gardiner (The Breaker Upperers, She Shears), is a story of three women - a lonely empty-nester on an uncharacteristic mission of mercy, a duped Greek mail-order bride, and a numbed anaesthetist on an increasingly unromantic weekend each navigate their way through an alpine landscape and the contours of the human heart.
The Justice of Bunny King, written by Sophie Henderson (Fantail), directed by Gaysorn Thavat (Brave Donkey) and produced by Emma Slade (The Changeover), tells the story of Bunny, a homeless squeegee queen who must break the law to keep her word when she makes a desperate promise to throw a birthday party for her kids, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether.
"The calibre of applications was outstanding, these are unique, authentic women's stories and ultimately, the decision was made that three of the shortlisted projects should be funded," New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Annabelle Sheehan said.