Wednesday, 18 July 2018

NZIFF Q&A - Amanda Millar, Director of Celia

NZIFF Q&A - Amanda Millar, Director of Celia

My film is....
To honour the life, death and work of  outspoken social justice campaigner and author, Celia Lashlie whose vision was for a better New Zealand. It was Celia’s dying wish that her messages in this film would get New Zealanders talking and  doing – rather than relying on government agencies or politicians to solve our biggest and ugliest social issues.

The moment I'm most proud of is....
NZIFF Q&A - Amanda Millar, Director of Celia
Seeing and hearing Celia’s voice and image on the Big Screen. It gets me every time. God! We’ve missed the clarity, pragmatism and power of her messages – not to mention her humour.  There’s been a vacuum since she left us so suddenly in February 2015 and New Zealand still needs her to guide us. Now this film will provide a platform for others to connect and respond.

The reason I carried on with this film when it got tough is.....
Celia asked me to make this film when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. How could you ever say no to  a dear friend and colleague when they ask you to fulfil their dying wish? She wanted others to carry on her work after she’d left us and  this film was to provide the catalyst for that work.  Her dying wish propelled me in times when I wondered if I was going to be able to honour her request. She had told us she thought she had 12 – 18 months. However,  three days after we recorded her one significant interview, she passed away. I was left with the responsibility of making a cinematic documentary that revolved around one last conversation with her.

The one moment that will resonate with an audience is.......
Every time Celia says something! There are constant powerful ‘moments’ in this film that will resonate with people on so  many different levels. Her insights cover domestic violence, vulnerable women and children, poverty, relationships, child abuse, raising teenage boys, alcohol and her personal reflections about her life and how we can protect ourselves against the consuming demands of life in the 21st Century.

The hardest thing I had to cut from this film is........ Celia! Every thing she says is compelling and insightful – especially when  you know this was the last chance she had to give her messages.  Every one who watched the film as I was editing it said, “We can’t get enough of Celia”. True. She is like a powerful drug… highly addictive. She always leaves you craving more.

The thing I want people to take from this film is ......
That they can do something as individuals to make a difference. We know that our prisons are full;  families are living in poverty;  domestic violence is happening in every suburb and we top the world for the number of teenage boys who are killing themselves. Stop expecting others to fix these crises and  get involved. Celia believed individuals and communities – especially mothers have the power to change the outcomes for vulnerable families. For every one that could be simply being more understanding and supportive. When you see a young woman struggling to pay for her groceries at the supermarket, help her.  Stop judging. Start supporting.

The reason I love the NZIFF is.......That it has offered me the wonderful privilege and opportunity to bring Celia back into the lives of New Zealanders.  It’s a prestigious festival that has placed me on a platform with some of the world’s most creative film-makers.  Best of all, I’m amongst an impressive line up of the most celebrated story-tellers in Aotearoa and that’s such an honour and a buzz!

What the 50th NZIFF means to me is......
That Celia is part of an auspicious milestone in the cultural and social history of New Zealand. I’m very proud and humbled to be included in this year’s festival when there is such an abundance of the world’s best films on show for  New Zealanders.

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