Christine Jeffs

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Christine Jeffs
Born 29 January 1963 (age 53)
Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Director, editor and screenwriter.
Years active 1990–present

Christine Jeffs (born 29 January 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.[1]

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

Education and career[edit]

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.[2] Afterwards, Jeffs went on to attend the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, located in Sydney, Australia.[2][3][4] 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.[2][3][4] 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.[4]


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.[2][3][4] 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."[5]

Sunshine Cleaning[edit]

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."[6] Much like Sylvia, Jeffs was brought in as a director after the project had already started.[7]

The Girl Film Company[edit]

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.[8] Other than this interview, knowledge of the company is relatively scarce.


Film Year Position
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
Sylvia 2003 Director
Sunshine Cleaning 2008 Director

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award/Nomination Year
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


  1. ^ "Rain | New Zealand Film Commission". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Christine Jeffs – Biography | NZ On Screen". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Christine Jeffs biography and filmography | Christine Jeffs movies". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Reads, leaves & shoots – NZ Life & Leisure Magazine". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Poppies in October: an Interview with Christine Jeffs | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Christine Jeffs interview". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Sundance Interview: Sunshine Cleaning Director Christine Jeffs". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Interview With Director Christine Jeffs – Rain". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 

External links[edit]