Documentary questions gender issues
Man? Woman? Or somewhere in between?
These are the questions a Herne Bay documentary maker is asking.
Kirsty MacDonald’s feature length film Assume Nothing will premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival starting tomorrow.
The film is an exploration of alternative gender identities, based on the book of the same name by Auckland photographer Rebecca Swan.
Kirsty says she had the idea while studying film at Auckland University when she saw Rebecca’s book in a shop.
She was intrigued by the androgyny of the person featured on the cover.
“Then I found the book was full of these beautifully crafted images,” she says.
She describes Rebecca’s photos as a visual manifestation of what she wanted to make a film about.
“There was something very open and courageous about the images.
“My hair stood up on end looking at it,” she says.
The finished film documents Rebecca’s work and profiles five artists whose identities fall outside conventional definitions of masculinity and femininity.
It’s the result of four years of work for Kirsty, who edited the film herself at home on a computer.
For a new director, she already has an impressive resume under her belt.
The pilot for Assume Nothing was selected as best short documentary at the Documentary Festival in 2006, when she also won best emerging director.
She received a scholarship from the Women in Film and Television Association to travel to France and work as director’s assistant to Niki Caro on The Vintner’s Luck, being released this month.
Seeing the full-length version of her film screened at the world premier on March 1 will be immensely satisfying, she says.
“I’m really ready for it to be finished and out there,” she says.
“I’m not trying to tell people what to think or how the world is but it’s posing some big questions.”
The documentary is screening alongside photos from the book at the MIC Toi Rerehiko Gallery on Karangahape Rd.
Photographer Rebecca Swan is looking forward to seeing the adaptation of her work brought to the big screen.
Although she was sceptical at first about Kirsty’s idea, she says there are absolutely no regrets.
“It’s added so much to the meaning of the project. It’s amazing.
“Even though I’ve seen the work so many times I can’t help but get moved every time I step into the gallery.”
The New Zealand International Documentary Film Festival starts tomorrow and runs until March 8.
For more information visit www.docnz.org.nz.
New direction: Kirsty MacDonald’s documentary Assume Nothing raises questions about the meaning of gender.