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New Zealand Film Commission CEO to Step Down


Annabelle Sheehan has led the organization for the past three years, undertaking innumerable diversity, inclusion, and gender equality initiatives, while helping drive the nation’s screen industries through the challenges of the epidemic.
New Zealand Film Commission CEO Annabelle Sheehan is stepping down. The change of leadership was announced by NZFC Chairman Kerry Prendergast on Thursday.

Sheehan has held the position for three years and is a well-known and widely respected figure in the New Zealand and Australian screen industries. Prendergast said the NZFC board was saddened by Sheehan’s departure, stating that the executive has been treating breast cancer for the past six months and has opted to return to his home in Australia to focus on his health and family Has chosen. The organization said Sheehan “will make a full recovery.”

Prendergast stated that Sheehan has continued to lead the development and implementation of new programs and initiatives at NZFC during this period, including the New Zealand Government’s efforts to COVID-19 recovery for the film sector. At the beginning of his tenure, Sheehan made a clear promise that under his leadership, diversity, inclusion, and gender equality in the NZFC would be priorities.


In April 2018, it launched 125 Fund to increase the number of female filmmakers who have access to production funds to tell their stories. Two of these films, Poppy and The Justice of Bunny King, have been completed, with the third going, Going in Production.

In the same year, Sheehan launched Te Rautaki Māori and announced new funding programs to ensure that Māori filmmakers have access to the financing and development of their stories and careers. He also created the new role of Pou Whakahaere to implement T Rautaki and strengthen the partnership with the Mao screen industry. The $ 2.5 million She Poonamu Te Re Māori feature film initiative was launched in 2018 to produce narrative feature films in Te Re Māori.

In 2019, NZFC and NZ On Air partnered with the serialized drama initiative Ravupa Vakari Drama on the World, a fund to support the development of distinctive, high-end scripted series targeting international markets and New Zealand audiences. . Senior writers, producers, show-runners, and internationally acclaimed show writers attended a week-long workshop with ten writer/producer teams.


In the same year, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered the inaugural address at the Power of Inclusion Summit, a two-day global event organized by NZFC in support of The Walt Disney Studios, and was attended by more than 700 industry professionals from across the globe.

Sheehan’s recent remand focuses on helping NZFC and the New Zealand film industry meet the challenges of the epidemic – a feat that New Zealand has undoubtedly handled more strongly than most of its international peers. The nation’s theaters fully reopened in August 2020, and ten New Zealand films have since been released in theaters, including This Town, Baby Dunn, Savage, Shadow in the Cloud, Don Red, and Cousin.

With international shoots shot in New Zealand between July 2020 and June 2021, the country’s production level also remains high, with New Zealand estimated to spend $ 530 million on goods and services. NZFC said that ten local films and series are also in production post-production in the country. Prendergast said Sheehan’s last day would be May 21, and the search for a new CEO would begin imminently.


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