Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Feeling special

Yes, I'm feeling special. I just won a design award, which is a very nice thing. Indeed. The award I won was for the Best Educational Book category. Yay me.

Here's the press release:

Graphic Design : 2007 Spectrum Print Book Design Awards winners announced

Eagle's Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand, written and illustrated by Audrey Eagle and published by Te Papa Press, swooped away with half of the awards on offer in the 2007 Spectrum Print Book Design Awards. "The judges unanimously agreed that this magnificent two-volume set easily met, and indeed surpassed, the criteria by which the entries had to be judged," said convenor of judges Denis Welch.

Designers Neil Pardington (Base Two) and Robyn Sivewright (Afineline) won Best Illustrated Book, Best Cover, and Best Book overall for their work on this landmark publication. This is Pardington's third consecutive win.

Audrey Eagle's botanical drawings were first published in 1975 by William Collins (New Zealand) Ltd; with a second volume following in 1983. As well as all of the artwork from the previous two volumes, the new volumes contain over 170 new paintings and drawings by Eagle, and showcase every presently known tree and shrub in New Zealand.

The treatment of Eagle's Complete Trees and Shrubs of New Zealand by Pardington (covers) and Sivewright (interiors) has also helped to earn Audrey Eagle and Te Papa Press a nomination for Best Illustrated Book at the Montana Book Awards.

Brief Lives (Auckland University Press) won designers Sarah Maxey and Katrina Duncan, along with artist Brendan O'Brien, the Best Non-Illustrated category of the awards.

The other winners were Cheryl Rowe, awarded Best Children's Book for Legends of Ngatoro-i-rangi (Reed Publishing), and Rose Miller, awarded Best Educational Book for Te Kete Kupu (Huia Publishers) – the first children’s dictionary completely in te reo Māori.

"The high overall standard of the entries indicates a publishing industry in remarkably good shape," said Welch, who was joined on the panel by bookseller Beth Davies and William Chen, founding Art Director of Metro and Art Director of Cuisine.

The book design awards have been run annually since 1997 by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Notes on the Festival

We're fortunate to have some intelligent filmwriting on the Festival - see Lumière Reader. It has excellent reviews throughout the year, but during the months of June and July it devotes itself to the New Zealand Film Festivals screenings. Good on them.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Triple bill

First up today: Tuli , a film by Philippines director Auraeus Solito, who's debut feature The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros screened at last year's Festival (I think it was last year's but the years get a bit mixed up!). Anyway, this was a strange and sweet film about a girl in a Filipino village, growing up as the daughter of the local village circumciser, who is also a drunk and generally a real asshole. The film includes views of simple village life and the story plays out to a happy ending. I'm looking forward to seeing more from this filmmaker. I really enjoy his storytelling.

Secondly was These Girls, quite a short documentary focusing on the life of a bunch of girls living on the streets of Cairo. These are different to our streetkids though - vastly different. The law does nothing to protect the girls from rape and kidnapping - the local guys make a habit of this and leave the girls scarred on their faces as a sign they have been “marked”. The girls bring up their babies on the streets. It was pretty grim, but getting to hear the girls’ stories made you realise that life on the streets is preferable to being beaten by their fathers back home.

Lastly, experimental film by Leighton Peirce. Explorations of Folded Time is a collection of painterly domestic macro-moments – slices of small moments of beauty, slowed down and repeated and lush with emotion. His children are observed in small detail - hands in water, small gaudy indistinct figures running down the back stairs. Sound is amplified and detailed. I smiled often during this screening, with the sweetness and beauty of the unfolding images. Just gorgeous. Quite a few people walked out. Why do people go to experimental cinema and not know what they are in for?!

Phew - pretty tired now. A few hours of work now then off to bed. Three films tomorrow.


Just had to share this: Battles with 'Atlas' off their album Mirrored.

Film Festival madness (again)

It's that time of year again. The Film Festival started today. The big gala opening was last night, with Taika Waititi's Eagle vs Shark. Jury's out on this one. Some fun moments, but left me with nothing. I think I was expecting so much more after his quite beautiful short films, Two Cars One Night and Tama Tu. Oh well. Hope he does better next time. The Americans are not saying very nice things about it. Redeeming feature: the soundtrack. I guess mentioning Napoleon Dynamite to Taika might get him a little riled right now.

Tonight I saw A Mighty Heart, Michael Winterbottom's latest (starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, wife of murdered journalist, Daniel Pearl), then Head, the Monkees film from 1968. Apparently it was a box office flop at the time. It was really fucking funny. Loved every minute. Here's something I just read: Rumors abound that the title was chosen in case a sequel was made. The advertisements would supposedly have read: "From the people who gave you Head." Now that's funny, huh? I loved the Monkees when I was a kid. Of course, I never got the drug references. I guess they were there in the series - they certainly abound in the film.

A Mighty Heart was pretty affecting – the streets scenes in Karachi, the very believable Jolie as Pearl's wife, the fantastic cast - it all added up to a great film. I missed Road to Guantanamo last year, but have seen plenty of Winterbottom's films before. It was great to follow this with Head. I was feeling a bit emotionally wrung out.

I have three films tomorrow and a meeting at 9 am, so I'd better get to bed.

Oh, and just thought I'd add that Battles are coming. Fucking A, mate! I'm over the moon. 22 September at San Fran.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Watch this space

Listening to: Bramble Radio download. Highly recommended. My friend's online music show - find some new tunes.

Well, life has taken some funny turns of late. I found out a wee while ago that I had been shortlisted for a design award. Freaky deaky. I'm planning to head up to Auckland for the awards dinner and see if I'm a winner. That would be strange. Just being shortlisted is a bit of a buzz.

Another odd turn is that I have been offered a fulltime job. I should still be able to retain my current clients under this new regime, but essentially I won't be working for myself anymore, which means no more irritating tax compliance (goodbye, paperwork!) and a solid stable income. Not that it's been financially tricky too often, but this way it's far more likely that I'll be able to buy a house. That will be pretty cool. And there's some new challenges in the job too - some of them a bit scary, but I think it's time to bring some new things into my life. Can't have things getting too comfortable!

I've been doing my usual Film Fesitval stint (my ninth and, probably, final year). There's some great films this year, including a bunch of 70s films made by US maverick filmmakers. Most of them seem to be starring a young (and rather attractive) Jack Nicholson.

So. Watch this space. I'll fill you all in on this new job when I know more about what the hell I'm gonna be doing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Dark

Okay, so the show went okay. It was kinda fun actually, and I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. Here's how it looked on the gallery wall on the opening night. Had a few wines, went out for dinner… the usual drill.

Here's my artist statement:
"I’ve been photographing light for a while now. I’ve always loved the dancing reflections of light on walls and ceilings. Capturing it seemed a fun thing to do, especially on my new digital camera - the results were instant. I ended up with a collection of abstract forms. I thought about light and shadow. About how delightful the play of light bouncing off a shiny object onto a ceiling could be. And then about how, as a child, dark shadows in my bedroom at night could be so menacing. I tried putting the two of these things together. The dark. The light. My light/shadow creatures were born. They’re not scary. But they have a slighly dark side."