A new documentary, She Shears, goes inside the woolshed (left).
Authenticity imbues every great documentary, and you can almost smell the greasy wool and sweat as She Shears pulls you into the world of competitive shearing. The difference is this 85- minute doco follows five women shearers – world record- holders Emily Welch (648 lambs in nine hours) and Jills Angus Burney, along with Hazel Wood, Catherine Mullooly and Pagan Karauria.
There’s no women’s section at the Golden Shears; the women compete alongside the men, wrangling 60kg sheep with a combination of technical skills and enviable strength. What they all share, as veteran Angus Burney puts it, is “sheep shit for brains”: shearing is a calling, not a job. Not that Angus Burney is an intellectual slouch; following an injury, she whipped through a law degree and now works as a barrister when she’s not in the shearing shed.
She Shears, which has just opened in cinemas nationwide, is classic Kiwi filmmaking. Asked how he built rapport on the set, director Jack Nicol said he made bacon- and- egg pies most days for cast and crew lunch. “It kept costs down, too.” VIRGINIA LARSON
Top: Catherine Mullooly, one of the stars in a new documentary, She Shears. Above: Hazel Wood in a race against the clock.