Leanne Pooley is a filmmaker based in Auckland New Zealand. Her career spans more than 20 years and she has won numerous international awards. Leanne Pooley was made a New Zealand Arts Laureate in November 2011.
Pooley was born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, she immigrated to New Zealand in the mid-1980s and began working in the New Zealand television industry.
In 1992 she moved to England where she made documentaries for Britain's major broadcasters including BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 as well as PBS in America.
In 1997 Pooley established the independent production company Spacific Films based in New Zealand. Recent documentaries include, The Man Who Has Everything for the American Discovery Network, Kiwi Buddha as seen on National Geographic and Haunting Douglas, described by Variety Magazine as an "Expertly crafted video portrait of modern dancer/choreographer Douglas Wright,". Haunting Douglas is a feature length documentary that has received accolades at film festivals around the world and earned Pooley the “Best Director” award at the 2005 New Zealand Screen Awards.
Pooley made The Promise about the life of euthanasia advocate, Leslie Martin, winning the “Best Documentary” award at the 2006 New Zealand Screen Awards. Her documentary Try Revolution explores how rugby was used to help end apartheid in South Africa and featured among others Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In 2010 Pooley made the documentary Topp Twins – Untouchable Girls, a theatrical feature about the lives of lesbian, singing, twin sister comedy duo, the Topp Twins. The film has won 21 International Awards including Audience Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Gothenburg International Film Festival among others. It has won jury awards at the Seattle Film Festival, New Doc New York, The Nashville Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival among others. It also won Best Feature at the NZ Film & TV Awards, and reached nearly $2 million at the New Zealand box office making it the most successful New Zealand documentary of all time. In 2012 Leanne directed Shackleton's Captain, a documentary about Frank Worsley, captain of Shackleton's Endurance, and produced the documentary Finding Mercy about Zimbabwe.
Leanne's latest film is Beyond The Edge, a 3D feature film about the 1953 Ascent of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay.
Leanne serves as a judge for The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; EMMY Awards. She has taught documentary at various universities and filmschools and is an active member of the New Zealand Director’s Guild. Leanne lives in Auckland with her husband and two children.