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Updates and statements from the Indie Caucus.


An Open Letter to New Zealand Immigration Minister Hon Michael Woodhouse

Tim Horsburgh

Immigration New Zealand recently made the decision to deny a visa to filmmaker Roksareh Ghaemmaghami to travel to Doc Edge Film Festival in New Zealand to present her Sundance award-winning film SONITA. The stated reason for the visa denial is "because we are not satisfied that you are a bona fide temporary entry applicant, genuinely intending a temporary stay in New Zealand."

In response, Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of the International Documentary Association has published an open letter to convince New Zealand to reverse this decision. Together with IDA, Indie Caucus encourages the filmmaking community to take action and help spread the word. Here's what you can do:

1. Share the letter with your networks. (See below for full text.)

2. Officially endorse the letter by emailing Simon ( and colleague Akiva Gottleib ( saying that: "XXXNAMEXXX endorses IDA's Open Letter to Immigration New Zealand" (and include your social media handles)

3. Like the letter IDA's Facebook page - or via the Twitter account @IDAorg

IDA will post your endorsement on their social media networks.

Here are some relevant social media handles you may want to use for your own postings:

Doc Edge - @Docedge

Michael Woodhouse - New Zealand Immigration Minister @WoodhouseMP

IDA - @IDAorg

Reposted from the International Documentary Association:

by Simon Kilmurry
Executive Director, Docs In Progress

April 18, 2016

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the International Documentary Association, I am writing to express our deep alarm and concern at the recent rejection of a visa application for documentary filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami by Immigration New Zealand. Ghaemmaghami was scheduled to attend the prestigious Documentary Edge International Film Festival in May 2016.

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami is an award-winning Iranian filmmaker who regularly shows her work at festivals all around the world – including throughout Europe and the US. Her recent film, Sonita, won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The film is scheduled to be screened at Documentary Edge, where Ghaemmaghami has also committed to teach a master class. 

Documentary film is one of the most vital forms of cultural exchange and dialogue. It is precisely this type of dialogue that leads to greater mutual understanding and is fundamental to a healthy democracy. 

Documentary Edge has built a highly respected reputation as a leading festival to which filmmakers and others around the world pay attention. It now risks having its reputation irreparably tarnished by this arbitrary decision.

The stated reason for the visa denial—"because we are not satisfied that you are a bona fide temporary entry applicant, genuinely intending a temporary stay in New Zealand"—is without basis, and smacks of profiling. There is no indication that Ghaemmaghami’s stay in New Zealand is anything other than temporary.

We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and grant Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami a visa.


Simon Kilmurry

Executive Director