Christine Jeffs (born January 29, 1963) is a New Zealand-born director, editor and screenwriter known for directing the New Zealand film Rain (2001), the British motion picture Sylvia (2003), and the American independent film Sunshine Cleaning (2008). Jeffs is also renowned for her work on television commercials.
Jeffs lives in Auckland, NZ with her partner John Toon, who was the cinematographer on all of Jeffs' films.
Education and Career
Jeffs has directed a total of 4 films from 1993-2008, 2 of which she wrote herself. Jeffs began her career by working locally in post-production, most notably as an assistant film editor. Afterwards, Jeffs went on to attend the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, located in Sydney, Australia. Jeffs obtained a diploma in film editing in 1990, after which she held the position of assistant editor on three feature-length films: Ruby and Rata (1990), Crush (1992), and Absent Without Leave (1992).
From her work as an assistant editor, Jeffs wrote, directed and edited her first short film Stroke in 1993, which unexpectedly gained attention from film festivals like Cannes and Sundance. Following her success with Stroke, Jeffs began to receive offers to direct commercials, and is now considered as one of New Zealand's most prominent commercial directors.
Just under a decade after Stroke, Jeffs returned to film, and had her first feature length debut as a director with Rain, adapted from a 1994 short novel by Kirsty Gunn of the same name. Premiering at the Cannes Directors Fortnight, Rain was highly praised to the point that many international film festivals requested it for screening. The following year, Variety included Jeffs in their annual "10 Directors to Watch" lists.
In 2003, 2 years after her global success with Rain, Jeffs second feature-length film, Sylvia, was released. Starring Gwenyth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, this film followed the lives of the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Jeffs was requested to take over the project well into production after the previous director left, to which she is stated as saying "[the project] had its blessings and its curses, because it's such a different kettle of fish to become involved with a project at such a late stage - rather than one you sat with and dreamed with and worked on for years."
After the mediocre success of Sylvia, Jeffs' third feature-length film, Sunshine Cleaning, was released in 2008 and was written by Megan Holley. The film starred Hollywood actresses Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, taking on the roles of two sisters who start a cleaning business specifically for crime-scenes. Alan Arkin also starred in the film as the peculiar father of the two women. Although Sunshine Cleaning was Jeffs' first comedy, she considers her first film, Stroke "kind of funny." Much like Sylvia, Jeffs was brought in as a director after the project had already started.
The Girl Film Company
The Girl Film Company is a production company in New Zealand that Jeffs is said to have co-founded. It is mentioned in an interview with her, which suggests that it was a production company for commercials. Other than this interview, knowledge of the company is relatively scarce.
|Ruby and Rata||1990||Assistant Editor|
|Absent Without Leave||1992||Assistant Editor|
|Stroke||1993||Director, Screenwriter, Editor|
Awards and Nominations
|Chicago International Film Festival - Nominated for "Golden Hugo" (Stroke)||1994|
|New Zealand Film and Television Awards - Won "Best Commercial" (NZ Police "Lipstick")||1995|
|TV Guide New Zealand Film and Television Awards - Won "Best Commercial" (Bailey's Liquid Silk)||1996|
|Nokia New Zealand Film Awards - Nominated for "Best Director" (Rain)||2001|
|Flanders International Film Festival - Nominated for "Golden Spur Award" (Rain)||2001|
|Ghent International Film Festival - Nominated for "Grand Prix Award" (Rain)||2001|
|Asia-Pacific Film Festical - Won "Special Jury Award" (Rain)||2002|
|Sundance Film Festival - Nominated for "Grand Jury Award" (Sunshine Cleaning)||2008|
|Deauville Film Festival - Nominated for "Grand Special Prize" (Sunshine Cleaning)||2008|