Alex Mitcalfe Wilson charts the journey a book follows when it is published today, telling a story of creativity and commitment through the words of those who carry a text through each step of that path: writers, editors, designers, printers, binders, booksellers, and librarians.
PAPER BOAT was filmed on location in Auckland and Piha. It features thoughts and reflections from writer Gregory Kan; Auckland University Press editor Anna Hodge; Index Design co-founder Amy Yalland; Image Centre print and binding specialists Rob Girdwood and Kevin Devane; Time Out Books manager and Young Book Retailer of the Year, Jenna Todd; and Carla Gullichsen, formerly of Wellington City Libraries.
Paper Boat presents a visual narrative built from the unique personal histories and fascinations of these people, whose work as writers, editors, and book professionals continues to change the way in which New Zealanders read, think, and dream. This is a documentary that unspools their stories into a rich tapestry of dreamlike image and sound, illustrates the many worlds of contemporary reading and writing, and maps territory as diverse as the way writing can give voice to the weight of life, the role of libraries in raising children, and how everyone’s mother seems to own the same cookbooks.
Alex Mitcalfe Wilson is a writer from Wellington who has previously published with Artspace Auckland, Art New Zealand, the Horoeka Reading Grants, Pie Paper, and The Pantograph Punch. He is currently undertaking postgraduate study at Elam Art School. Having worked in bookstores and libraries for many years, Alex considers this first directorial effort something of a labour of love.
This Paper Boat
PAPER BOAT features the poetry of Gregory Kan, whose first collection of poems, This Paper Boat (Auckland University Press, NZ$24.99), also inspired the film’s title. Tracing his own history through the lives and written fragments of Iris Wilkinson (aka Robin Hyde), of his parents and their parents, Kan explores old territories of Hyde’s still dripping with the past—the tide pool at Island Bay with its shrimp and driftwood, the garden at Laloma with its crushed lemon leaves. He listens to the stories of his parents and their parents, the eels and milk, frangipani trees, drains and barbed wire of their childhoods. He remembers a jungle of his own; he searches for ghosts in the water. And while stumbling across irreparable fractures between worlds, he uncovers the permission to have beautiful and imperfect plans.
Looking down at my boots I couldn’t tell whether I was Singapore, New Zealand, Thailand or Brunei. All dirt tracks look the same to me, at night. The gradual accumulation of sediment. Crouched beside the track, I ate biscuits to try to stay awake. When we began moving again I watched one of my platoon-mates stumble off the track, in sleep. The sediment is compacted as more and more material is deposited on top. Walking through Wilton’s Bush a few days ago I was disoriented when I cut my hand on a thorny, overhanging branch. I realised I had no gloves. No camoulage paint on my, no quipment vest, no rifle around my neck, no ammunition, no water, no signal set, no platoon, no rank. Eventually the underlying sediment becomes so dense it is essentially rock.
Extract from “This Paper Boat” by Gregory Kan (pg.5)