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Wednesday, 20 March 2019 08:57 am

Friendship the creative force behind new documentary

Oct 3rd, 2018 | By | Category: Featured Article

Celia joins a list of influential New Zealand women, such as former Prime Minister Helen Clark in the top left.

Documentary filmmaking is the latest challenge experienced reporter Amanda Millar has conquered with her evocative debut Celia.

Audiences at Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision in Wellington attended a screening of the documentary and a Q + A session with Millar on Wednesday evening.

The documentary is part of a series of screenings of female focused films at Ngā Taonga for the 125th anniversary of the Suffrage movement in New Zealand.

The one hour and forty minute film debuted at the New Zealand International Film Festival in August.

Extra screenings were scheduled at the festival to address the demand.

Millar is well known for her investigative journalism as a frequent contributor to the current affairs shows 20/20, 60 Minutes and the consumer watchdog programme Fair Go.

Social justice advocate and writer Cecelia Lashlie is the film’s focus, which Millar produced and directed after receiving funding from a private donor who was impacted by Lashlie’s work.

Millar and Lashlie met during a piece the reporter was working on for 20/20 in 2001, forming a professional relationship that developed into the two becoming close friends.

Lashlie was renowned for her fiery manner and ‘no bullshit’ attitude, stemming from her background as a guard in a men’s prison as well as her experience as a young mother.

The film’s purpose is threefold as a retrospective and celebration of Lashlie’s work, but also as a candid illustration of the deep seated social problems that face New Zealand.

Amanda Millar now runs a public relations and marketing firm, but the skills she used as a journalist are evident in this film.

Known as Celia or ‘Ces’ to those close to her, she was an outspoken advocate on prison reform and domestic violence who believed in giving a voice to the voiceless.

“Celia believed that the only way to change social outcomes in this country, and deal to the horrifying statistics, was to work with the mothers, because it’s mothers that have the power to change the outcomes of families” Millar says.

“She was all about giving voice to those who couldn’t, that was exactly why she was such an amazing communicator and that’s why she connected with so many people, because they could hear themselves in her stories.”

Millar’s next challenge is general distribution in February.

She has been approached by prisons, community groups, and social agencies like Oranga Tamariki, who want to use the film in training and to connect with clients.

“The real responsibility I have is to get this film to those who need it most” Millar says.

“Every New Zealander needs to see this film.”

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