Bougainville actress Xzannjah named NZ's Best Actress | Pacific Beat

Bougainville actress Xzannjah named NZ's Best Actress

Bougainville actress Xzannjah named NZ's Best Actress

Updated 12 December 2013, 17:57 AEDT

The female star of the film Mr Pip has taken out the Best Actress Award at last night's New Zealand Film Awards.

17-year-old Xzannjah from Papua New Guinea's Bougainville says she was thrilled just to be nominated for the award and didn't expect to win.

She hopes the film's exposure will help to encourage a film industry in Papua New Guinea.

Presenter: Bethany Keats

Speaker: Xzannjah, star of the film Mr Pip and winner of the New Zealand Film Awards Best Actress

XZANNJAH: Actually, I wasn't prepared, I didn't think I would be winning the award, so I was just preparing myself to lose you know, I was just saying, put a smile on your face and just smile, but then to my surprise they called my name and then they said I won. So it was really thrilling for me, exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

KEATS: What about when you received the nomination. How did you feel then?

XZANNJAH: When I received the nominations, I was actually thrilled, because just to be nominated that was a huge thing for me and I didn't even expect to win. I thought some other actresses would win. The girl in what was it? The Weight of Elephants. She was really good, yeah. So yeah, I thought they would have won the award.

KEATS: You've said previously in interviews that you've got plans to finish school, to go to university and study engineering. Is that still your plan or does this award change some things?

XZANNJAH: Yeah, this award kind of changed the way that I look at things from now on, and yeah, it's quite confusing, but I still want to become a petroleum engineer. But now that I've got this award I still want to do acting, so yeah, it's quite confusing. I'm not sure where I sit at the moment.

KEATS: What do you think this film has done for Bougainville?

XZANNJAH: I think that it has opened peoples eyes to the situation that happened in Bougainville and I think that it has done a lot of good and it has helped and I believe this film will help the people of Bougainville have hope for the future. And so when we're voting for independence, it will give them something to look at and consider when they're voting for independence.

KEATS: What do you think this film about Melanesia, starring Melanesians, means for the international film industry?

XZANNJAH: Oh, it means a lot, because it's not everyday that we get to see Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, Bougainville out on the big screen and it's just opened a whole new doors for Melanesia as a whole. Especially Papua New Guinea, because there are a lot of talented people out there in PNG. They want to become actors and actresses but they just don't have the chance to pursue their dreams. So this movie being filmed and being made, hopefully it will encourage the film industry in Papua New Guinea, encourage the people to start up a film industry there and work to making films for the near future, because not many people have the opportunity as I did to be in a film like this.

KEATS: You're living in Australia now. Do people recognise you around town, do they see you and go that's the girl from the movie?

XZANNJAH: Oh yeah. When I first went to school and then kids were excited, told their parents and everything. So sometimes I do get that. When I'm at the airport back in New Zealand. They're like 'oh, you're here for the film, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, we saw you on TV last night'. And I'm like 'oh, yeah, okay, yes, yeah', so it's a whole new thing out there.

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