Screen Australia and NZFC call for submissions for Indigenous anthology ‘Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply’

‘Blue Water Empire’. 

Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department and the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) are calling for submissions towards a drama anthology, Cook 2020: Our Right of Reply, which will provide an Indigenous perspective on the 250th anniversary of James Cook’s maiden voyage to the Pacific.

Screen Australia and NZFC will fund four Indigenous teams from both New Zealand and Australia respectively to each create a short to be a part of an anthology feature film. The initiative has received financial support from Create NSW.

Screen Australia is contributing $500,000 in production funding to the initiative. NZFC is committing the same amount in NZD to each of the New Zealand short films.

“This initiative presents a shared international opportunity for First Australian creators to re-examine and engage with the effects of colonisation through the perspectives that drama can provide,” said Screen Australia head of Indigenous Penny Smallacombe.

“We are looking for passionate Indigenous filmmakers who want to collaborate with our Māori and Pasifika storytellers to be a part of this ground breaking creative partnership.”

NZFC Māori screen executive Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble said: “Tangata whenua of Aotearoa and the Pacific consider the arrival of Cook as the beginning of colonial attitudes that have left significant marks on the land and its people. It is essential that these stories are expressed.”

CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission Annabelle Sheehan said: “This joint initiative brings together the Indigenous voices of Australia, Māori and the Pacific peoples and can inspire us to rethink the old contours and framings of history. A collaboration between New Zealand and Australian Indigenous filmmakers is a truly exciting way to retell that story and reset the conversation.”

Applicants can propose a dramatic short that speaks to the theme of cultural survival, but can take any form, from experimental, to comedy, to genre and/or animation. The shorts can be period or present-day stories. The successful screen practitioners must be willing to work with the other successful Australian and New Zealander applicants to ensure the anthology works as a cohesive eight-piece feature.

Australian applicants need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and directors, or writer/directors
  • Have already made at least two short dramas of at least seven minutes each. This can include standalone shorts, online or web series and/or dramatised documentary. Those with extensive documentary directing experience are also encouraged to apply.
  • Meet Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade

Applicants must also be available to travel to a workshop in Sydney from May 13-17 and must be able to prove their ability to deliver the finished short film by November 2019.

NZ based Māori and Pasifika applicants should apply via NZFC and as set out on the NZFC’s guidelines on their website.

A producer can be attached to a short film project but is not essential. Successful teams will be supported by an anthology producer in each country respectively, appointed by the NZFC and Screen Australia.