BIG SCREEN SYMPOSIUM 2018 – 26 & 27 October


The Big Screen Symposium, in its 7th year, once again presents an inspiring and accomplished line-up of speakers to the NZ film and television community. This year’s programme is crafted around the theme Tuning into the Zeitgeist and explores how the characteristics of our age and the politics of now manifest in our imaginations, and how that impacts the stories we tell and how they connect with audiences.

This year sees a strong Pasifika presence with nine vaine writers and directors from yet-to-be released anthology feature, VAI, set to present a series of mini addresses drawing on this year’s theme in the context of their collaboration. VAI is a film that connects eight stories about the journey of empowerment through culture, over the lifetime of one woman, Vai.

Director/writer Dustin Feneley and producer Desray Armstrong share the story of their bold and critically acclaimed debut feature, STRAY in a special #BigScreen18 case study. Their case study will focus largely on how they financed the film through private investment, sponsorships, the goodwill of cast and crew, and crowdfunding donors – where it raised the highest amount ever for a NZ film.

Warwick Thornton, Brita McVeigh, Tim White and Briar Grace Smith present intimate Close Up sessions, with places limited to 15. Brita and Briar deliver practical workshops to deepen your storytelling craft, Tim delivers an interactive session about market place and financing, and Warwick Thornton talks to directors.

Four writers who have mastered the truly tricky business of comedy for the screen come together to reveal how they made their audiences laugh: Jackie Van Beek and Madeleine Sami from BREAKER UPPERERS, and WELLINGTON PARANORMAL’s Paul Yates and Melanie Bracewell.

Kenyan filmmaker, author and co-founder of media company AFROBUBBLEGUM, Wanuri Kahiu, kicks off #BIGSCREEN18 with an opening address. Kahiu has recently sued the classification office in her home country for banning her recent feature film for “promoting l lesbianism”. The film, RAFIKI, is Kahiu’s second feature and premiered at Cannes this year.

Writer/director David Lowery (PETE’S DRAGON, A GHOST STORY, THE OLD MAN & THE GUN) travels in from Dallas to share his knowledge and experience in a filmmaking masterclass, and to participate in a panel discussion.

A number of speakers join us from Australia, including revered director and cinematographer Warwick Thornton (SAMSON AND DELILAH, SWEET COUNTRY) who will close the BSS. Thornton’s unique eye and powerful voice have seen him awarded both the Camera D’Or in competition at Cannes (best first feature) and the Premio Bisato d’Oro in competitoin at Venice (critics’ award for best film).

Lynette Wallworth (TENDER, COLLISIONS, AWAVENA) is an Australian artist whose practice spans video installation, photography and film, and she will be at #BIGSCREEN18 talking about emerging technologies. She describes her intention as “bringing together technological advances and ancient understandings, new media and old practices, electronics and the electricity of human touch.”

CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, Anna Serner, who has been praised across the globe for tackling gender disparity in filmmaking in her own country and creating a ripple effect around the world, delivers a pertinent keynote address.

Script to Screen Executive Director Esther Cahill-Chiaroni says, “This year we are very excited by our move to the ASB Waterfront Theatre, but we know that the wonderful community spirit at the heart of the event will remain. It will be two days filled with extraordinary local and international talent gathered under the one roof to talk about filmmaking and storytelling in our times.”

This year marks 40 years of the New Zealand Film Commission, an event partner of the Big Screen Symposium, so Big Screen Symposium is hosting a special networking drinks to honour the occasion.

Find out more at the Big Screen Symposium Website –