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Encyclopedia > Gaylene Preston

Gaylene Preston is a noted film-maker with a particular interest in the documentary format. She lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Wellington (Te Whanganui-a-Tara or Poneke in Māori) is the capital of New Zealand, the countrys second largest urban area and the most populous national capital in Oceania. ...


Gaylene Preston has been celebrated as one of New Zealand's leading filmmakers, having made some of the most enduring popular classics of New Zealand cinema.

Preston is a storyteller whose films have a distinctive flavour, that entertain while presenting serious subjects with humour and warmth. Her compassion and understanding of real life, real people, combined with her immense talent for portraying on film metaphoric stories has contributed to Gaylene’s peerless reputation as a distinct local voice.

In 2001, she was honoured by the New Zealand Arts Foundation, becoming New Zealand’s first Filmmaker Laureate. The word laureate or laureated has came in English to signify eminent, or associated with glory, literary or military. ...

Since her first film All The Way Up There, winner of the Special Jury Prize Diableret Film Festival, Switzerland and the Banff Festival of Mountain Films (1979), she has constantly returned to documentary; a highlight being the popular cinema documentary War Stories: Our Mothers Never Told Us; Hoyts New Zealand Cinema - best film (1995); voted most popular film and best documentary at the Sydney Film Festival (1996) and was in official selection Venice, Sundance and Toronto Film festivals. As a producer she has contributed to the award-winning feature documentaries Punitive Damage (1999) and Coffee, Tea or Me? (2001) and Lands of our Fathers (executive producer).

Her feature films, Mr Wrong, Ruby and Rata, and the mini series Bread & Roses (with producer Robin Laing) have garnered multiple awards in New Zealand and abroad and become New Zealand classics.

Gaylene Preston is writer, director and producer of Perfect Strangers a darkly humorous, perverse tale about the overriding human need to love and be loved. Starring Sam Neill and Rachael Blake it was in official selection for numerous International Film Festivals during 2004, winning two Best Actress awards at Fantasporto in Portugal and Vladivostok. In accepting the Russian award Rachael Blake acknowledged the authenticity within the work and thanked Gaylene Preston for “…creating on set an invaluable, limitless arena of flexibility, trust and ease.”

Preston Chaired the Academy of Film and Television Arts (1997 – 99) and was a member of the board of the NZ Film Commission (1979 – 85) as well as chair of the Film Innovation Fund (1981 – 85).

Preston has recently finished a second term as a menber of the Board of New Zealand on Air (The NZ Broadcasting Commission) and was awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the New Zealand Governor-General, for services to filmmaking.


  • Earthquake (2006) - Producer / Director
Eyewitness accounts of New Zealand's most devastating earthquake in modern times. A documentary of loss and survival and of lives changed forever told by people who thought their world was ending.
  • Lands Of Our Fathers – my African legacy (2004) - Executive Producer
Opening an old leather suitcase compels a New Zealand filmmaker to revisit her Rhodesian childhood, and reconcile herself with the effects of the colonial past
  • Perfect Strangers (2003) - Writer / Director / Producer
The dangerous deception of desire. A chilling romance.
Female Eye festival 2005 Toronto Best Film; Fantasporto Film Festival 2004 Portugal Best Actress Rachael Blake; Vladivostok Film Festival 2004 Best Actress Rachael Blake
Selected: Melbourne, London Montreal, Film Des Femmes Paris, Fantasporto ( in competition ), Stockholm, Seattle, Chicago, Fantasy Film Festivals Brussels ( in competition ), Germany, Hof, Shangahai, Vladivostok (in Competition), Cincinnati, Vancouver among others
  • Coffee, Tea or Me? (2002) - Producer
The surprising tale of the underestimated trollydolly.
Selected: NZ International Film Festival 2002, Sydney, Melbourne, Vancouver
  • Titless Wonders (2001) - Producer/Director
Emotional journeys after a breast cancer diagnosis.
NZ Media Peace Awards 2001 Winner Premier Award; Selected: NZ International Film Festival 2001; Keynote presentation World Breast Cancer Symposium 2002
  • Wahine Requiem (2001)
Semi-permanent cinema installation for the Museum of City and Sea.
  • Getting To Our Place (1999) - Producer/Co-Director
A fly-on-the-wall behind the scenes look at the remarkably bumpy road to Te Papa.
Selected NZ Film Festival 1999
  • Punitive Damage (1999) - Producer
The true story of a death in Timor and the power of a mother’s grief.
Munich Film Festival Awards Silver Medianet; Sydney Film Festival Awards Best Documentary 2nd place; Selected Critics Week Locarno International Documentary Festival
  • Survivor Stories (1998) - Producer/Director
The Hawkes Bay Earthquake of 1931 remembered. Semi-permanent cinema installation.
  • No Other Lips (1996) - Director/Co-Producer
A documentary portrait of Maori poet, Hone Tuwhare.
Selected NZ International Film Festival 1996
  • WAR STORIES Our Mothers Never Told Us (1995) - Producer/Director
Seven New Zealand women share stories of love and loss during the Second World War.
Best Film – NZ Film & TV Awards 1995; Most Popular Film – Sydney Film Festival 1995; Best Documentary – Sydney Film Festival 1995
Selected: Venice Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival 1996, AFI Assoc. Charity Screening, Los Angeles 1996, Toronto, Montreal, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Gothenburg, Munich
  • Bread And Roses (1993) - Director/Co-writer/Associate Producer
A four-part mini-series for television based on the autobiography of Sonja Davies.
New Zealand Film & Television Awards 1994: Film: Best Performance in a Dramatic Role – Female, TV: Best Performance in a Dramatic Role – Female, TV: Best Supporting Performance – Male, TV: Best Design; Melbourne Film Festival – 3rd Popular Choice
Selected: New Zealand, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Seattle, London, Toronto, San Francisco among others
  • Ruby & Rata (1990) - Director/Co-Producer
An old lady, a would be rock singer and a delinquent child – with more in common than they realise. A comedy/drama
New Zealand Film & Television Awards: Best Editing, Best Film Score, Best Contribution to a Soundtrack, Best Male Performance; Winner - 3rd Place-Popular Choice, Best Feature Sydney & Melbourne Film Festivals; Gold Medal Award Giffoni Childrens Film Festival, Italy; Top 10 selection most popular, Toronto Film Festival
Selected: New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, London, Milan, Seattle, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Palm Springs International Film Festivals
  • Kai Purakau The Story Teller (1987) - Producer/Director
A documentary for Thames Television (UK) on Booker Prize winning author Keri Hulme.
Selected: New Zealand International Film Festival
  • Mr Wrong, (The Dark Of The Night - USA) (1985) - Director/Producer/Co-writer
A genre bending thriller about a young woman who buys a haunted car. Based on a short story by Elizabeth Jane Howard.
New Zealand Film and & Television Awards Best Female Performance; 2eme Prix du Public Festival de Films de Femmes de Creteil 1986
Selected NZ, Seattle, Chicago, Melbourne and Munich Film Festivals
  • Patu (1983) - Co-ordinator
Merata Mita’s feature-length documentary about the protest against the Springbok tour of New Zealand (1981).
  • Making Utu (1982) - Producer Director
A documentary about the making of Geoff Murphy’s feature-film UTU, looking at the issues involved in exploring New Zealand’s racial past.
  • Hold Up (1981)- Director/Co-Producer
A deaf dress designer, a blind radio announcer and a spastic film critic witness the robbery of a cinema.
Australian Teachers of Media (1983). Best Overseas Film for under 12year-olds; Best Overseas Film. Rehabilitation Film Festival (New York 1983); First Prize – Dramatisation category – Rehabilitation International World Congress (Lisbon 1984)
  • Learning Fast (1980) – Producer/Director
A documentary about seven small town seventeen year olds leaving school and finding their place in the world.
  • All The Way Up There (1978) - Director/Producer
Bruce Burgess, a 24 year-old, spastic since birth and Graeme Dingle, a well-known mountaineer, climb Mt Ruapehu together.
Special Jury Prize – Banff Festival of Mountain Films (1980); Special Jury Prize – Festival International du Film Alpine, Les Diaberets (1980)

External links

  • http://www.gaylenepreston.com
  • http://www.perfectstrangersthemovie.com

  Results from FactBites:
Gaylene Preston | Laureate Artist 2001 (504 words)
Gaylene received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award in September 2001, and a Media Peace television-film category award for her document Titless Wonders which had its' North American premiere screening at the 2002 World Breast Cancer Conference in Canada.
Gaylene returned to New Zealand in 1977 and, like many other successful independent New Zealand film makers, began working for John O'Shea at Pacific Films where she was employed as Art Director.
Gaylene has also served on the Executive of the Independent Producers and Directors Guild, the Board of the New Zealand Film Commission and The New Zealand Film Archive - in addition to raising a family and making films.
Gaylene Preston's Biography (311 words)
Preston is a storyteller whose films have a distinctive flavour, that entertain while presenting serious subjects with humour and warmth.
Preston Chaired the Academy of Film and Television Arts (1997 – 99) and was a member of the board of the NZ Film Commission (1979 – 85) as well as chair of the Film Innovation Fund (1981 – 85).
Preston is currently a member of the Board of New Zealand on Air (The NZ Broadcasting Commission) and was recently awarded the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the New Zealand Governor-General, for services to filmmaking.
  More results at FactBites »



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