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War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us

1h 34m Documentary, War 1995

Dame Gaylene Preston’s documentary War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us tells the personal experiences of seven women during WWII. Through interviews, archival footage, still photographs and popular songs of the time, Preston paints a wholly absorbing and fascinating portrait of wartime New Zealand.

In 1995, War Stories won the New Zealand Film and Television Award for Best Film, and was nominated for Best Score (Jonathan Besser) and Best Soundtrack (Don Paul and Mike Hedges), and in the same year won Most Popular Film and Best Documentary at the Sydney Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

The film also screened internationally at Venice Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festivals, as well as screening in London, Hong Kong, Gothenburg, Munich, Los Angeles, Montréal, Seattle and Chicago.

NZ On Screen launched the Gaylene Preston Collection in 2022, showcasing 40 years of Preston’s work through feature and short films, television episodes, home movies, interviews and tributes from cinematographer Alun Bollinger, Three’s film reporter Kate Rodger, and archivist Danny Bultitude. See the collection here:

Preston also released a memoir titled Gaylene’s Take: Her Life in New Zealand Film covering her 50 years as a director, writer and producer of over 140 titles. More information at the link:

Source: NZ On Screen and Gaylene Preston Productions


Pamela Quill (Herself) , Flo Small (Herself) , Tui Preston (Herself) , Jean Andrews (Herself) , Rita Graham (Herself) , Neva Clark McKenna (Herself) , Mabel Waititi (Herself)


Dame Gaylene Preston

Executive Producer

Robin Liang


Alun Bollinger


Paul Sutorius


Judith Fyfe




New Zealand


Gaylene Preston Productions

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