Asia Pacific Projects
These projects are selected as part of a collaboration with DocEdge New Zealand.
Untying The Knot
Project Name: Untying the Knot
Director’s Name: Chona Mangalindan, Philippines
In the last country outside the Vatican where divorce is illegal, women in abusive marriages pay the price. With only difficult options, they either stay or turn to unsavory solutions.
Guardians of the River
Director’s Name: Lachlan McLeod & Veialu Aila-Unsworth, Kerry Warkia & David Elliot-Jones (New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guiana)
- Type: Feature
- Stage: Concept/In development
- Country: New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea
- Language: English, Pidgin English, Yatmul
- Runtime: 90 mins
- Presented By: Lachlan McLeod & Veialu Aila-Unsworth, Kerry Warkia & David Elliot-Jones
- Director Bio: Lachlan McLeod is an independent filmmaker and co-founder of
Walking Fish Productions, a Melbourne-based production house that specialises in bold, character-led documentaries. His latest feature documentary Clean had its World Premiere at SXSW 2022 in the Documentary Feature Competition.
Veialu Aila-Unsworth began her career in New Zealand at TV THREE and has worked with Australia’s largest free-to-air TV Networks (NINE Network & Network TEN), as an award-winning creative producer/director. In 2021, her feature script The Defiant One, a historical drama set in colonial Papua New Guinea, was selected as 1 of 10 screenplays for the 2021 CAPE List in America.
- Producer Bio: Kerry Warkia (Papua New Guinean / Scottish) is a producer and cofounder of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt. Kerry is passionate about telling Māori and Pacific stories. Recent titles include The Legend of Baron To’a (2020) and Vai, which premiered at Berlinale in 2019.
David Elliot-Jones is a producer and co-founder of Melbourne’s Walking Fish Productions. Some of David’s recent credits include feature documentaries Clean (2022) and Big in Japan (2018), and VICE short Searching for the Tassie Tiger (2021).
- Production Company: Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions & Walking Fish
- Logline: When an enormous mine threatens the Sepik River, Indigenous activist Manu
Peni and his people launch an urgent mission to protect the precious waterway.
- Synopsis: The 1,126km Sepik River is the largest remaining intact freshwater river system in Papua New Guinea. When an enormous China-owned, Australia16 administered, gold and copper mine is proposed in one of the Sepik’s tributaries, Indigenous activist Manu Pani and his grassroots organisation Project Sepik launch an urgent mission to protect their precious river. But it is highly dangerous work against a sophisticated, powerful, and better resourced opposition, and globally more than 300 frontline defenders like Manu are killed each year.
‘Guardians of the River’ charts the journey of Manu Peni and his motley crew of protectors as they seek to unite Haus Tambaran—ancient spirit houses and places of governance—in key villages along the river in opposition to the mine, while a team of promising lawyers of Pacific origin, based in Australia, push a ground-breaking case to protect the river by recognising its personhood.
Manu achieves the Supreme Sukundimi Declaration of 28 Haus Tambaran uniting 78,000 people and rival clans in opposition of the mine. But his fight is only just beginning.
At its heart, ‘Guardians of the River’ is an Indigenous survival story, about a community voicing their resistance to a multinational mine through their preferred traditional means, via the Haus Tambaran. For the people of the Sepik, Earth Law and Rights of Nature is not a new concept, but a return to the system of law and governance that sustained them for thousands of years.
- Director’s Statement: Making this film has made me rethink my relationship with nature. Everybody used to be part of “a river”. Today, at least in a Western context, most of us don’t even know what this means. It is a feeling and idea that has been lost slowly across generations as our values and lives changed. By our new measurements we are richer than ever before but without this connection there is a void. When we are not part of a river, we cannot fully know who we are. I don’t think any of us who have lost “our river” will ever be able to get it back. At least not in the same way that the people of the Sepik understand it. But we can still see glimpses of it. We can reflect on where these changes to our systems and values have led us. We can see how Indigenous ways of thinking about our relationship to the world are necessary for the future. And if the mountain of gold sitting above the Sepik River can stay there, then I feel that maybe we can preserve some of these ideas about what being human and connected to a river is like.
- Looking For: Broadcast/platform acquisition/commission, Distribution, Funding, Sales Agent
- Total Budget (Usd): $935,446
- Secured Budget (Usd):
Walking Fish Productions Producer Contribution – $80,000
Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Producer Contribution – $80,000
- Director Filmography:
▪ Clean (2022)
▪ Big in Japan (2018)
▪ Convenient Education (2013)
I Thought Jesus Was Korean?
Project Name: I Thought Jesus Was Korean?
Director’s Name: • Presented By: Elina Osborne
- Type: Feature
- Stage: Concept / In Development
- Country: New Zealand
- Language: English
- Runtime: 90 Mins
- Presented By: Elina Osborne
- Director Bio: Having graduated from AUT University with a major in video production
in 2015, Elina set out to focus on telling stories of adventure; and where else to start but her own? Hiking the 4,270km Pacific Crest Trail, followed by New Zealand’s 3,000km Te Araroa, Elina has amassed an online following of ~100,000. The short documentary It Is the People she self-produced, filmed and edited went on to screen in seven film festivals in 2020, and garnered over half a million views online. Elina now has intent to return to the story that continues to follow her.
- Producer Bio: N/A
- Production Company: N/A
- Logline: Forty years after her parents’ mass wedding at Madison Square Garden, a Kiwi-Japanese filmmaker seeks meaning after learning her Korean Jesus was a fraud.
- Synopsis: New Zealand/Japanese filmmaker, Elina was born of a bloodline free from Satan; pure and aligned with God. Elina grew up in a cult. But not just any cult – one on the cover of every newspaper in the ‘70s, referenced in everything from the Simpsons to Seinfeld, and now seemingly forgotten.
History became legend, and legend became myth, and for the second generation born under the pretense of a Korean Jesus, their stories were never told. After six years distanced from her double-life adolescence, Elina begins to see that her ‘quirky’ backstory still holds presence in her psyche.
Having discovered new community among others driven to spend multiple months hiking long distance trails, Elina recognises the parallels in her new love for thru hiking, with the cult she left behind. There is still desire to fill some kind of void. By retracing
19 the controversial history of Reverend Moon; the tax evasion, sex rituals, and illegitimate children, Elina seeks to find just how far the trail of Moon’s legacy will take her.
With debt-ridden, ageing parents, juxtaposed with the unfolding drama around the Moons’ billion-dollar fortune, the intricacies of their internal family conflict begin to come to light; did loyal followers dedicate their lives to a Messiah or a businessman?
Following Elina’s journey of deconstruction, unpacking her once fundamental beliefs, the film explores how ex-Moon children-now adults, seek to find a sense of place having lost their means of navigation.
- Director’s Statement: It’s said to take five years to leave the psychological confines of a cult – for me, it’s been six. I thought Jesus was Korean? is the story of the children of the Moonies, beyond the layers of cult-ey sensationalism. While there’s darkness to uncover, there’s also humour to bring levity; the sugar to the pill that’s hard to swallow- what are the stories of seeking restless joy, despite all? How does an adult work through the crushing existentialism that follows the deconstruction of their fundamental beliefs? This is a story my younger self needed to see to truly believe; navigating a trail is far better without the shadow of the Moon.
- Looking For: Broadcast/platform acquisition/commission, Executive Producer,
- Total Budget (Usd): $90,000
- Secured Budget (Usd): N/A
- Director Filmography:
▪ It Is the People – Director, Writer, Editor