Wednesday, August 29, 2018

‘Celia’ – A NZ documentary

Earlier this month, Nigel and I went to see the documentary about social justice advocate and storyteller Celia Lashlie called Celia (trailer above) at the New Zealand International Film Festival. It was the first time we’d seen a film in the NZIFF, and it was a good one to choose. A powerful film and a call to action, the film ought to be required viewing for every New Zealand politician.

The film was made by former TV journalist Amanda Millar who called the project, “the most important assignment of my life”. The film featured archival footage along with interviews with Celia in what turned out to be her very last days. Celia died of pancreatic cancer in February 2015, less than two months after being formally diagnosed.

I well remember when she came onto the public scene talking about ways of doing things differently. She argued passionately for better ways of helping people earlier, rather than waiting and allowing things to fall apart, and good kids to grow up and go to prison. The documentary summarises her salient points, and gives some idea of the passion she had for her life’s work.

Politicians’ reactions to her were varied. Some understood her message and wanted to make it work, while others resisted mightily. Most probably didn’t understand, or just wanted to take the cheapest option, as most politicians normally choose. But she called us to do better so we could be better. That work isn’t finished.

Fortunately, plenty of people are committed to advancing her work. A website, “Celia’s Army” provides hints and ideas so that people can get involved in making New Zealand a better place. Her own website also has some of her writing and more about her work.

There were a lot of good and important messages in the film, things that can help make New Zealand better. But one of the most poignant and powerful points for me on a personal level was in one of those final interviews when she said she’d planned to spend more time writing and following her creative passions, but her body called time after years of refusing to listen to her spirit’s call to follow that passion. I’m not a big believer in metaphysical stuff, but the message is important all the same: At some point we need to stop wasting time, because time will inevitably “waste” us.

There’s talk of some international distribution, and wider release in New Zealand, but it’s likely to be difficult to get a chance to see it, at least for a while. Even so, it’s well worth the effort. Celia was a remarkable woman, and Amanda Millar’s documentary does her justice.


rogerogreen said...

"He's got it sussed" - the only time I've ever heard "sussed" is We're Not Gonna Take it, the last song on Tommy by the Who

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

It's common enough in New Zealand, though possible more from people of a certain age. It is (or was) common in the UK at one point, too, though I'm not sure about Australia,