AUT University graduate Anna McKessar was named Best Emerging New Zealand Filmmaker at the Documentary Edge awards in Auckland this week.
McKessar’s winning film, Five Hours with Raja, follows a young mother as she carries her unborn baby to term despite the diagnosis of a fatal birth defect. In particular, it explores the impact of baby Raja’s birth and short life on his extended family.
“A lot of people are taken aback when they hear the synopsis of Five Hours with Raja, but without fail, everyone who takes the time to watch cannot help but be moved by this family’s love and heart. I felt the weight of responsibility as a storyteller to do something with the amazing footage I had captured and to extend the influence of that little life,” says McKessar.
Making the film, which formed part of her Masters in Communication Studies at AUT, was an “incredible experience,” says McKessar. Her exegesis focused on the ethics of participant-filmmaker interaction, a crucial part of making this sensitive film.
Five Hours with Raja has been a success for McKessar on several fronts: she has already signed a deal with an international distributor and an academic publisher has accepted her exegesis for publication.
The Documentary Edge festival runs at the Rialto Cinema in Auckland until March 14 and in Wellington from March 13-28. For more information and screening times for Five Hours with Raja: http://www.documentaryedge.org.nz/2010/ak/film/five-hours-with-raja