17 Aug 2008

Transformation of NZ film hailed under Harley

2:38 pm on 17 August 2008

An independent film and television producer says the departing head of the New Zealand Film Commission oversaw a decade of transformation for New Zealand cinema.

Dr Ruth Harley has been appointed to a five-year term as chief executive at a newly formed national film agency, Screen Australia.

She has been chief executive at New Zealand Film Commission for more than 10 years.

Under her tenure, the international profile of New Zealand and its films has grown - helped along by big budget films like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Film Commission board member and director of Pitone Productions, Tainui Stephens, says a move to a more challenging role was a natural progression for someone of Dr Harley's calibre and leadership qualitities.

He says the face of New Zealand film changed while she headed the commission, shifting from the "cinema of unease" to reflecting a nation that's more at ease with itself.

Dr Harley will take up her new position in November.

Australia's screen production industry contributes more than $A1.5 billion to the economy and employs 50,000 people.