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Can you name a film early on in your career that has truly moved you as a human being? I have a French editor and mentor who lives in the UK, and we have these incredibly robust conversations. I’m being polite actually – we literally scream at each other, but love each other to bits! Years ago I was in London editing one of my earlier films, and he told me he needed me to give him some space so he could get the job done. He sent me off to an art gallery in Brixton to see a film he had just finished editing that was part of an exhibition there, which was by artist Pierre Huyghe, and called Untitled (Human Mask) . The film was partially shot on a drone camera in Fukushima after the earthquake-triggered tsunami had caused the meltdown of three nuclear plant reactors, and the evacuation of 300,000 people. Huyghe went in a while later and left cameras there that captured footage in a sake bar of a monkey dressed in human clothing with a wig and mask, and a cat. The monkey was one of two that the bar had working tables as a sort of gimmick, a horrible gimmick, and they were left there when the humans fled. The cat had moved in and is ‘served’ food by the monkey each day, as its clothing and wig become more tattered and torn. It affected me so much then, and still does today, as it speaks on so many levels to what we are doing to this planet. And it helped you as a filmmaker? It did, especially when I have moments of “what the hell am I doing?” My process is so much about trusting my gut and jumping on a plane three days later bound for Afghanistan or Nigeria, and when I met Huyghe at a party, he told me you just have to believe in yourself, because no-one else will. I understand that funding bodies and commissioners aren’t risk-takers like me, but important stories still need to be told. I can’t wait to get on a plane again. Lastly, in the absence of travel or red carpets – what are you wearing? One of the things that has kept me sane without travel is my daily run through the forest, which takes about two hours. Just before Christmas I twisted my knee at boot camp but won’t stop running, so my physio in Whakata¯ne has strapped my leg almost completely in blue tape. So that is what I’m wearing!

Pictured: Yellow Is Forbidden – New Zealand’s submission for the 2019 Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film  SEE MORE

2021 MARCH View 35

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