Christine Jeffs

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Christine Jeffs
Born (1963-01-29) 29 January 1963 (age 60)
Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation(s)Director, editor and screenwriter.
Years active1990–present

Christine Jeffs (born 29 January 1963) is a New Zealand-born director, editor, and screenwriter.[1][2]

She is best known for directing the films Rain, Sylvia, and Sunshine Cleaning[3]. Jeffs is also known for her work on television commercials.[4]

Education and career[edit]

Jeffs has a 2018 master's degree in fine arts from the University of Auckland, examining the relationship between a photographer and their subject.[5] She began her career by working locally in post-production, most notably as an assistant film editor.[1] Afterwards, Jeffs went on to attend the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, located in Sydney, Australia.[1][2][6] 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).

Stroke (1993)[edit]

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.[1][2][6] Following her success with Stroke, Jeffs began to receive offers to direct commercials.[6]


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.[7] Premiering at the Cannes Directors Fortnight, Rain was highly praised by critics.[3][8][9][10] The following year, Variety included Jeffs in their annual "10 Directors to Watch" lists.


In 2003, two years after her global success with Rain, Jeffs second feature-length film, Sylvia, was released. Starring Gwyneth 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."[11] Sylvia was praised by critics.[12][13]

Sunshine Cleaning[edit]

After 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."[14] Much like Sylvia, Jeffs was brought in as a director after the project had already started.[15][16]

The Girl Film Company[edit]

Jeffs is said to have co-founded a production company in New Zealand called The Girl Film Company.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Jeffs lives in Auckland, NZ with her partner John Toon, who was the cinematographer on all of Jeffs' films.


Film Year Role Notes
Ruby and Rata 1990 Assistant Editor
Crush 1992 Assistant Editor
Absent Without Leave 1992 Assistant Editor
Stroke 1993 Director, Screenwriter, Editor
Rain 2001 Director, Screenwriter [3][18]
Sylvia 2003 Director [12][13]
Sunshine Cleaning 2008 Director [19][20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Notes
1994 Chicago International Film Festival Golden Hugo Stroke Nominated
1995 New Zealand Film and Television Awards Best Commercial NZ Police (Lipstick) Won
1996 TV Guide New Zealand Film and Television Awards Best Commercial Bailey's Liquid Silk Won
2001 Nokia New Zealand Film Awards Best Director Rain Nominated
2001 Flanders International Film Festival Golden Spur Award Nominated
2001 Ghent International Film Festival Grand Prix Award Nominated
2002 Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award Won
2008 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Award Sunshine Cleaning Nominated
2008 Deauville Film Festival Grand Special Prize Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d "Christine Jeffs – Biography | NZ On Screen". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Christine Jeffs biography and filmography | Christine Jeffs movies". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Scott, A. O. (26 April 2002). "FILM REVIEW; Drowning in Fear of Certain Disaster". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Rain | New Zealand Film Commission". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  5. ^ Jeffs, Christine (2018). Somewhere Near (Masters thesis). ResearchSpace@Auckland, University of Auckland. hdl:2292/45813.
  6. ^ a b c "Reads, leaves & shoots – NZ Life & Leisure Magazine". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  7. ^ "BBC - Films - interview - Christine Jeffs". Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  8. ^ "BBC Stoke & Staffordshire Films - Rain Review". Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  9. ^ "Rain". the Guardian. 27 June 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  10. ^ May 15, Owen Gleiberman; EDT, 2002 at 04:00 AM. "Rain". Retrieved 13 January 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Poppies in October: an Interview with Christine Jeffs | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  12. ^ a b Scott, A. O. (17 October 2003). "FILM REVIEW; A Poet's Death, A Death's Poetry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  13. ^ a b "Young Blood". The New Yorker. 13 October 2003. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  14. ^ "Christine Jeffs interview". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  15. ^ "Sundance Interview: Sunshine Cleaning Director Christine Jeffs". Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  16. ^ Taylor, Ella (27 February 2009). "Down to Earth, Even When Off the Wall". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  17. ^ "Interview With Director Christine Jeffs – Rain". Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  18. ^ Rooney, David (15 May 2001). "Rain". Variety. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  19. ^ Betsy, Sharkey (13 March 2009). "Coming clean". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  20. ^ Scott, A. O. (12 March 2009). "Bonding Amid Blood Splatters: Two Sisters and Their Messy Lives". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2023.

External links[edit]