Marian Evans

writer & activist
New Zealand

Voted for

West Side Story1961Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Go Fish1994Rose Troche
Stud Life2012Campbell X
13th2016Ava DuVernay
The Lives of Others2006Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Sister Galvan2003Marian Evans
Cousins2021Briar Grace-Smith and Ainsley Gardiner
Friday Night Bites2016Roseanne Liang, Calvin Sang
PATU!1983Merata Mita
20 Feet from Stardom2013Morgan Neville


West Side Story

1961 USA

The first film to show me that there were passionate, diverse performance worlds beyond our little New Zealand town with its Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan. And that musicals can be 'serious'. Now being enjoyed by a third generation of our family.

Go Fish

1994 USA

I saw this in a Toulouse cinema with lesbians who were shocked by the swearing. It continues to resonate with me as a rare and absolutely authentic portrayal of lesbian community.

Stud Life

2012 United Kingdom

Another milestone in authentic queer cinema.


2016 USA

The power of cinema to provoke discussion and inspire change: screened in NZ Parliament, introduced by a black American woman who had an incarcerated family member and discussed by Maori activists in the justice system, an evening that completely engaged an audience whose unsolicited feedback in the days that followed was extraordinary.

The Lives of Others

2006 Germany

So beautifully structured. And that last scene! My co-writer and I still refer to this movie regularly.

Sister Galvan

2003 New Zealand

One of my greatest films, for its celebration of Aotearoa's Sister Wendy, a courageous, beautiful, gay man, whose story would otherwise not have been told. It spans the time when homosexuality was outlawed, when AIDS was widespread and when this renowned arts worker would pop into the local public toilets between meetings.



Greatest because it was the first feature film directed by a/two Māori woma/e/n since Merata Mita's Mauri in 1988. Based on the 1992 novel by Patricia Grace and a huge leap forward in a process that included Waru, an omnibus feature and will now accelerate the production of authentic films by and about Māori and other indigenous people.

Friday Night Bites


Whaaaaat! A webseries? Yes, because often they're all that women, particularly women of colour, have been able to make as feature-length and beyond-feature-length narratives. And Friday Night Bites, for example episode 18 ( moves representation beyond what's been seen before. Others I could have named as the greatest ever are Ness Simons' Pot Luck, Jessica Hansell's Aroha Bridge, Hanelle Harris's Baby Mama's Club.



Mass civil disobedience during a Springbok tour of New Zealand. Greatest because it catches a wild historical moment so effectively using scraps of film and contributions from many other filmmakers than the director, seamlessly woven together.

20 Feet from Stardom

2013 USA

Like all my selections, this is 'greatest' because it showed me something new and previously unknown to me, in a very affecting way. After this, I pursued backing singers all over the place, including Leonard Cohen's Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla.