Doc­u­men­tary ques­tions gen­der is­sues

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

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


New di­rec­tion: Kirsty MacDon­ald’s doc­u­men­tary As­sume Noth­ing raises ques­tions about the mean­ing of gen­der.

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