Leanne Pooley is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished documentary filmmakers having directed over 20 films. In 2011 Leanne’s work was recognised by the New Zealand Arts Foundation and she was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate.
Born and raised in Canada, she immigrated to New Zealand in the mid-1980′s and began working in the New Zealand television industry.
In 1992 she moved to England where she made documentaries for Britain’s major broadcasters including BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 as well as PBS in America. Her films featured on internationally acclaimed series such as; Everyman, Modern Times, and 40 Minutes.
Pooley’s documentaries have screened in more than 100 countries, and include topics ranging from rugby to the Pope.
Upon her return to New Zealand in 1997, Pooley established the independent production company Spacific Films.
Leanne’s latest work is Topp Twins – Untouchable Girls a theatrical feature about the lives of lesbian, singing, twin sister comedy duo, the Topp Twins. The film has won 21 International Awards including “Audience Awards” at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Gothenburg International Film Festival among others. It has won jury awards at the Seattle Film Festival, New Doc New York, The Nashville Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival among others. It also won “Best Feature” at the NZ Film & TV Awards, and reached nearly $2 million at the New Zealand box office making it the most successful New Zealand documentary of all time.
Previous documentaries include the Qantas Award “Best Documentary” winning film Relative Guilt, The Man Who Has Everything for the American Discovery Network, Kiwi Buddha as seen on National Geographic and Haunting Douglas about choreographer Douglas Wright.
Haunting Douglas was her first feature length documentary, and has now screened at festivals around the world. Haunting Douglas earned Leanne the award for “Best Director” at the 2005 New Zealand Screen Awards. The film also won “Best Documentary” at the International Reel Dance Awards.
Her documentary feature The Promise, about euthanasia campaigner Lesley Martin won the 2006 New Zealand Screen Award for “Best Documentary”. In 2006 Leanne produced and directed Try Revolution, exploring how rugby was used to help bring down South Africa’s apartheid regime, and in 2007 Being Billy Apple, another feature length documentary,about the man who became a living work of art.
Leanne serves as a judge for the International Emmy Awards, has extensive teaching experience, and has published several articles on documentary filmmaking.
She lives in Auckland with her husband and two children.
- text courtesy of Spacific Films
- image courtesy of Rialto Distribution (rialtodistribution.com)