Saturday, 14 July 2018

NZIFF Q&A - Shirley Horrocks

NZIFF Q&A - Shirley Horrocks

My film is Paul Callaghan: Dancing With Atoms.
Paul Callaghan: Dancing With Atoms.

The moment I'm most proud of is Making Paul’s boyhood come alive to explain how a boy became a scientist. I had great stories from his brother Jim, from a boyhood friend, and from Paul’s own writing, and I used dramatization including cartoons and old photos to tell the story of a curious boy who revelled in freedom and experiment.  At a large preview screening it was great to hear the audience laugh at Paul’s escapades.

The reason I carried on with this film when it got tough is
That I thought Paul was an extraordinary guy and I wanted people to know the range of his achievements. In another country he’d be on our stamps and banknotes, he’d be a household name like Sir Ed Hillary.

One moment that will resonate with an audience is
The way Paul faced his diagnosis of terminal cancer. He talked about it with Kim Hill on her popular Saturday morning broadcasts and kept a running blog of his results. Above all he remained busy with all his important projects up to the very end. I wanted to show how much Paul enjoyed life and what a fun person he was. There’s a little surprise at the end of the film which I love.

The hardest thing I had to cut from this film was
His work with young people in projects like the Eureka Awards and the Eureka Trust. He had such an energetic life with so many diverse interests – science, environmentalism, the arts, and developing the NZ economy - that even in a feature film I could not include everything.

The thing I want people to take from this film is Paul Callaghan’s love of science, of life, and of people, and his desire to “make NZ a place where talent wants to live.”

The reason I love the NZIFF is Its dogged determination (particularly in the person of director Bill Gosden) to bring world-class films, both fiction and documentary, to New Zealand. I love the buzz and excitement of it. I love seeing full-houses because the festival depends for its survival on ticket sales, to a greater extent than most overseas festivals which receive more city or government support.

What the 50th NZIFF means to me is
That it’s a proud moment in the festival’s history. It’s also a proud moment for me as this film is my 11th film in the festival. Bill Gosden has generously said that I’m the NZ film-maker who has been most often represented.

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