Paper Boat: Moments in the life of a book

“My mother used to make up stories in the darkness that no one knew the endings to. It was a kind of permission to have imperfect and beautiful plans.”

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.

Director’s Statement

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.

1455844200262PAPER 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.


Extract from “This Paper Boat” by Gregory Kan (pg.5)


21.09.2015   Alex Mitcalfe Wilson chats to Radio New Zealand National’s Jesse Mulligan about “Paper Boat”.
NZOnAir“The Lumière Reader presents” is a web series of original essay films and digital documentaries made with funding from NZ On Air. Advocating for art on the margins, these films seek to engage with fellow artists, thinkers, and practitioners—particularly those whose work has been neglected, misunderstood, or obscured by popular media and culture.


Gregory Kan, Anna Hodge, Amy Yalland, Rob Girdwood, Kevin Devane, Jenna Todd, Carla Gullichsen.
Directed by Alex Mitcalfe Wilson
Produced by Melinda Jackson
Director of Photography: Sean Wallace
Editor: Alexander Gandar
Art Director: Selina Ershadi
Sound Design: Jackson Hobbs
Music composed by Luke Benge, Francesca Mountford
Colourist: Candlelit Pictures
Publicist: Rebecca McMillian
Series Producer: Tim Wong
With thanks to the staff of Auckland University Press; Index Design; the staff of Image Centre & Designbind; the staff and customers of Time Out Books; the staff and readers of Auckland City Libraries; New Zealand Society of Authors.
The Lumière Reader presents
in association with NZ On Air
“Paper Boat”
© Lumière Industries 2015
Release date: September 1, 2015