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Information on Peter Wells

Peter Wells, a prominent New Zealand writer, filmmaker, and gay rights pioneer, left an indelible mark on the nation's cultural and social landscape. Born on February 8, 1950, Wells carved a niche for himself through his expressive dramas and documentary films, starting from the 1980s. His works, known for their exploration of gay and historical themes, earned him widespread acclaim.

Wells's first feature film, "Desperate Remedies" (1993), co-directed with Stewart Main, stands out as a significant contribution to New Zealand cinema. This film, which screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, presented an expressionistic take on New Zealand's colonial beginnings. It was a marked departure from the 'man alone' machismo that was prevalent in New Zealand films during the 1970s and 80s.

In addition to his filmmaking, Wells was a celebrated author. He won the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction and the PEN (NZ) Best First Book in Prose Award in 1992 for his short story collection. Moreover, his novel "Iridescence," which was published in 2003, was a runner-up in the fiction category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and a finalist in the 2005 Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize. His dedication to literature and film was recognized in 2006 when he was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Wells was also a significant figure in New Zealand's LGBTI community. He was instrumental in founding the Auckland Writers Festival in 1998 and, in 2016, established a festival to promote LGBTQI writers, named same same but different (ssbd). This festival includes the Peter Wells Writing Award, a testament to his commitment to nurturing and recognizing literary talent. His endeavors in this arena reflect his dedication to both literature and the LGBTQI community.

During the HIV/AIDS crisis, Wells poignantly recalled the backlash the gay community faced, noting how it seemed like the progress made over the past decades was being eroded. This period was a challenging time for gay men, who were once again cast into the role of victims due to the societal reaction to the epidemic.

Peter Wells was openly gay and shared his life with his husband, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins. His openness about his sexuality was significant in a time when this was not universally accepted or easy. He was a pioneer in more ways than one, as he authored New Zealand's first gay-themed work published by an openly gay writer. His collection "Dangerous Desires" is notable in this regard.

Wells's life was not without its struggles. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2017 and openly documented his journey with the disease on his private Facebook page. His candid accounts from diagnosis to treatment captured the attention of many and illustrated his resilience and openness. Sadly, Peter Wells passed away on February 18, 2019, at the age of 69, in Auckland's Mercy Hospice, leaving behind a legacy of artistic achievement and advocacy for the LGBTI community.

In a career spanning several decades, Peter Wells has left an indelible mark on New Zealand's cultural landscape as a writer, filmmaker, and gay rights advocate. His contributions to literature, film, and the LGBTI community continue to resonate, making him a notable figure in New Zealand's history.

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Date written:27th December 2023