Diverse Voices: Kathleen Winter

The work of independent filmmaker Kathleen has centred on politically challenging stories that reflect real lives and uplift communities.

Kathleen is one of six local filmmakers interviewed for a documentary about diversity, innovation, sustainability and new perspectives in Wellington’s film industry.

Diverse Voices: Making Screen Work Different’ is a Wellington UNESCO City of Film project directed and produced by Pachali Brewster, alongside facilitators and Victoria University of Wellington’s Missy Molloy and Raqi Syed.

Material for the documentary has come from a hui featuring six local storytelling talents, including Kathleen, around the central question: “How can we make screen work different?”

Brought up in Manawatu and of Irish and Pākehā descent, she’s a graduate of the New Zealand Film and Television School and a Robin Laing Scholarship recipient.

Kathleen was also a finalist for the 2020 Women in Film and Television Outstanding Newcomer Award. And is an alum of the 2020 Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand Emerging Women Filmmakers Incubator.

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She’s well aware she’s working in an industry and a society which has very strict norms. Yet she didn’t see herself as an outsider until she went through film school.

“The sexism, it was wild. We hadn’t had a chance to prove ourselves, we were just given roles… all the women were given make-up and wardrobe. Some of my classmates were like ‘I don’t wear make-up, I’ve never done make-up in my life’, but because they were women that’s what was happening in the film industry.”

That ignited a spark to make documentaries and tell the stories about the people around her, and that, in turn, meant her work became “more queer”.

“As a member of the queer community, it meant those were the people in my life and those were the stories I was excited about telling.”

Kathleen has continued to focus on those honest stories that blur the lines between documentary realism and performance.

Her documentary short ‘Ultimately Lacks Polish’ was released in April 2022 for the Going West Writers Festival.

She’s currently developing an experimental docu-comedy that explores New Zealand’s welfare system through the stories of beneficiaries.

“We’re at a time where diverse voices are getting a lot more opportunities and being celebrated.”

Visit Kathleen’s website to learn more