We’re bringing CELIA to YOU!

You’ve asked for her so you’re getting her. CELIA, the feature-length documentary on the life and work of social advocate and story teller, Celia Lashlie is coming to a cinema near you on February 28th, 2019.

What’s different about how she’s travelling is that the New Zealand public gets to determine where CELIA goes. If you want to see the film in your town or city, you need to tell your local cinema to contact us through our website www.celiafilm.com


When Celia Lashlie asked me to produce the documentary before her untimely death in February 2015, her aim was for it to allow her messages and work to live on by getting the film to as many people as possible throughout the country.

CELIA was my first attempt at producing and directing a feature film. It emerged as the biggest local box office success of last year’s New Zealand International Film Festival.

The huge response and public demand has forced me to get the film back ‘out there’. So many New Zealanders were gutted that they missed out on the film as the festival’s screenings sold out so fast.

Most feature films do the circuit of what’s called ‘general release’ through a commercial distributor. However, this means the film follows a pre-determined path of where it will screen in the country.

My responsibility to Celia was to get it to the places where people wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to see her. This has meant that as the producer, I’ve decided to distribute it ‘independently’. So if you’re in Whakatane or Westport,  ask and hopefully, you will ‘get’.

Celia Lashlie knew the power of ‘community’ in nurturing those at risk and providing support. That’s why this film’s focus is on getting to the communities around New Zealand.

We’re also offering your community groups a chance to use the film as a fund-raiser in  ‘preview’ private screenings in the two weeks before the February 28th launch as well as throughout the general release period. You can do this through contacting our independent distributor, Chris Matthews through our website.

I have said before that I always recognised that Celia Lashlie was the consummate storyteller.  No one has the cut through, the clarity and the charisma that Celia had.

What has amazed me is the response from individuals who have seen the film. The gift she provides is that each and every one of us will have our own ‘ahah’ moment in the film or a connection where we say,  “that’s me that Celia’s talking about”.

One example was the middle-class, well-dressed tearful woman who chased me down the street in Brooklyn, Wellington. She wanted to tell me that the film had changed her life forever.

She’d heard Celia talk about how children pick up on the tension and negativity from their parents if there’s aggravation or abuse, even if it’s not physical. This impacts deeply on the children.

The woman told me that she and her husband had been trying to sell their home. They had been arguing a lot and this had affected their relationship. While watching CELIA, her “aha” moment was the realisation that her children’s increasingly difficult behaviour was due to how she and her husband were treating each other.

“I’m going home to tell my husband and my children that I love them and we’re going to stop fighting. Thank you to Celia for rescuing my marriage and my family!”

Wow. That was intense.

I can also say the film had a profound impact on my own family. It brought to the surface some raw issues and memories from years ago. Somehow, I had selectively shut that out of my consciousness while I was editing the film. However, after relatives watched the film, suddenly we were talking for the first time about this difficult stuff. Pretty cathartic for all of us.Thank you CELIA!

Then there was the male teacher who left the film in tears saying he wanted every single one of his high-school students, teachers and parents to see the film.  That was echoed by a female secondary teacher who also said, “I will be telling every single pupil at the next assembly to come to this film for the sake of their lives and their relationships”.

One of the major revelations to me is the response from men. Many come, thinking they’re going to watch a film about women for women. They emerge totally surprised, moved and very often uplifted.

Celia loved men. She loved their humour. She loved their silent but expressive communication. After years working in male prisons with some of the most hard-arse offenders, she knew what was beneath that staunch veneer. She ‘got’ men.

No one else would have the guts to say what Celia said. Forget political correctness. Celia was bang on because she knew it was the truth and she had the credibility.

Celia says in the film that women have to address the violence in relationships too. That too often, it’s the females, especially using our mouths who spark the abuse. Many women can identify with that. We know how to push buttons and we know when we go too far and when we won’t shut up. That’s provocative and destructive.  We need to take responsibility for our part in the appalling social statistics.

And then there was the group of young men, in their mid-20s who didn’t know Celia Lashlie before the film. After the screening, they were supposed to go and meet their mates for drinks. Instead, they decided that they wanted to talk between the six of them as to how they all could volunteer or make a difference in society. “What could they do?” they asked desperately.

All I could say was carry Celia’s advice with you, everyday. Be non-judgmental. Listen and support those who need help rather than isolate them. Sounds woolly and vague but it means if each one of us has the capacity to help one other person in some practical way, that will create change and a better future for New Zealand.

I’m keen to hear if your life and your attitudes have changed as a result of seeing CELIA.  Please feel free to share this on our Facebook page @celiamovie or instagram @celiafilm or write to us at www.celiafilm.co.nz

And I look forward to seeing you at CELIA in your local cinema from February 28th, 2019 onwards.

Don’t miss out this time or come along for the second or third time. I promise, you’ll get even more from the film in a repeat viewing. One woman told me she’d gone to every single one of the six Wellington screenings. So go on… beat that!

Amanda Millar