Lucire: News


September 25, 2016

Turned on, tuned in: Doris Bergman’s seventh annual Emmy Style Lounge & Party

Lucire staff/21.48

Elyse Glickman

Above, from top: Art Lewin works the room with celebrities on hand. Fibrum’s revolutionary virtual reality technology. We fell in love with True Love Skincare.

It just goes to show that you can’t stop progress. A decade ago, everybody in Hollywood was marvelling about how cable television was drawing some of the spotlight away from the Big Four networks with ground-breaking concepts that just couldn’t be shown on ‘regular TV’. Today, Netflix, Hulu and other streaming networks have eclipsed cable television with topical takes on social issues and nostalgia. Heck! It took a lot for us to pull ourselves away from binge watching The Get Down, Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Bloodline, and Narcos to attend Doris Bergman’s seventh annual Emmy Style Lounge & Party.
   After a decade of covering pre-awards events, we have noticed there is a similar shift in how Hollywood event planners are picking and choosing their participants. In 2006, it was all about glamour, luxury and fun touches of excess. This is, after all, how we got turned on to vacuum cleaners that double as sculpture.
   Today, the suites reflect our evolving tastes as well as those of the taste-makers around Hollywood. At Doris’s event inside the swanky Fig & Olive restaurant, we found a balance between the practical and the luxurious. There was plenty to please male attendees such as Jason Ritter, John Savage, Marsai Martin (Black-ish) and Charlie Koontz (CSI: Cyber). Art Lewin, a long-time Doris favourite, handed out silk ties and discussed his bespoke suiting services for special occasions. Single’s jewel-toned boxers for men would look and feel comfortable under these custom-tailored suits.
   A few high-tech products made their début. Dioo Audio’s pink, champagne, and black ear buds and headphones were designed for women, according to company rep Mike Kahn. However, with the sleek metallic, guitar-pick-inspired accents and comfy memory foam in the headphones, most guys would snap up the black accessories. Speaking of sound investments, celebrities were the first to get their hands on Fibrum Mobile Virtual Reality headsets, which takes smartphone gaming experience to the next level. Event sponsor introduced its app, which helps users locate hot bars and cool cocktail or craft beer events anywhere in the world.
   Grooming goodies were also front and centre. Spongelle added wonderful new things to their line, including lasting pedicure bars, metallic soap sponges that leave behind a subtle shimmer, and their new all-in-one Super Buffer for men. Other products focused on those unmentionable grooming challenges that we all face: the FootMate System by Gordon Brush, a marriage between a shower mat and a pedicure brush, gently scrubs away sand, dirt, and dead skin from tired, calloused feet. Even the most follicly endowed man wouldn’t mind a little boost from Pura d’Or’s hair-growth-enhancing shampoo. Celebs and civilians who suffer from warts, age spots, and skin made crackly by the sun all found remedies within the True Love Skincare line. Essential oils, honey, and other natural ingredients gently exfoliate, disinfect, and moisturize inflamed skin, even in intimate areas. As for their True Love Private Paste, don’t be shy—go ahead and ask!
   There was enough sparkle for our favourite style stars including Jane Lynch, Kimberly Elise, Patricka Darbo, Dot Marie Jones, and Tasha Smith (Empire). Doris’s good friend Sue Wong had her camera-ready dresses waiting in the wings. The international designer–grande dame showcased eveningwear that evoked a long-gone time and place; women of all shapes could be sexy and modern with a nod to silent film era. Twisted Silver showed up with more repurposed chic costume jewellery for men and women, and My Saint, My Hero was back with an expanded range of cool faith-oriented bracelets and bangles. Celebrities seeking the real deal in jewellery were drawn to Andrea Gutierrez’s nature-inspired statement pieces. Dresses, jumpsuits, rompers, scarves, and tops by Kaya di Koko are wrinkle-free and practical, yet sexy enough for the club or resort.
   Rekorderlig’s fruit cider from Sweden and cocktails made with Royal Élite Vodka from Uzbekistan helped guests quell the late summer heat. However, the star of the show, beverage-wise, was chef–coffee importer–home entertaining maven Bryan David Scott. With assistance from LA mixologist Flairin Farron, Bryan rocked the house with his luxurious iced espresso drinks spiked with Somrus, a cardamon- and rose-scented cream liquor from India. If you insist on top-quality coffee to really wake you up in the morning, check out his news and brews at his aptly named website,
   In the spirit of giving back, guests and sponsors donated unwrapped gifts for young adults (ages 13–18) for a Pre-Holiday Gift Drive benefiting ‘Wednesday’s Child’, a weekly segment airing on KTTV Fox 11 News, Los Angeles, with anchor Christine Devine. ‘Wednesday’s Child’ highlights harder-to-place children in the LA County foster care system who are in need of adoptive families. ‘In Los Angeles County, alone, there are over 35,000 children receiving child welfare services,’ says social worker, Prof William Wong. Doris always invites two foster children to join in on the festivities and experience what it feels like to be treated as a VIP.
   A decade ago, we just couldn’t get enough of the next big things in designer handbags and shoes, studded tank tops and embellished designer denim for the very young and thin starlet. Leave it to Doris to keep things fresh every awards’ season. This go-round, men got the royal treatment.—Leyla Messian, Correspondent; and Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor

Courtesy Doris Bergman

Elyse Glickman

Above, from top: Edyta Sliwinska with Dioo Audio. Jane Lynch with Sue Wong Couture. Jason Ritter with Ein Drink. Kimberly Elise with Personal Touch lingerie. Patrika Darbo with Footmate. Strong enough for a man, designed for a woman: Dioo’s glam audio innovations. Royal Élite Vodka quells the late summer heat. Foot Mate puts its best foot forward. Hollywood haberdasher Art Lewin. My Saint, My Hero puts its faith in gold and silver and a variety of styles. Chilling out with Rekorderlig cider. Coffee chef extraordinaire Bryan David Scott. Legendary designer Sue Wong in top form.

September 3, 2016

Tania Dawson crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 in front of sold-out audience

Lucire staff/15.41

Alan Raga

Above: The moment: Tania Dawson hears the news that she’s been working toward for most of 2016, that she is the new Miss Universe New Zealand. Centre: After the announcement, Samantha McClung crowns her successor, Tania Dawson, Miss Universe New Zealand 2016. Above: Second runner-up Larissa Allen (left) and runner-up Seresa Lapaz (right) flank Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 Tania Dawson.

Secondary school drama and music studies’ teacher Tania Dawson, 23, was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 Saturday night at Skycity Theatre, taking home prizes including a stay at Plantation Bay Resort & Spa in Cebu, Philippines and the use of a Honda Jazz RS Sport Limited for the duration of her reign.
   Dawson, who is of half-Filipina extraction, was also the crowd favourite, with a large group of supporters in the live theatre audience.
   The event proved to be a Filipina one-two, with Seresa Lapaz, who was born in the Philippines but is a naturalized New Zealander, coming runner-up.
   Both ladies hail from Auckland, while second runner-up Larissa Allen comes from Tauranga.
   Dawson was crowned by her predecessor, Samantha McClung, who flew from Christchurch to join 2013 titleholder Holly Cassidy in a special parade featuring the exclusive designs of Ankia van der Berg of Golden Gowns.
   The sold-out audience enjoyed entertainment from special guest performers Stan Walker, Frankie Stevens, and Ali Walker, as well as the cast of Oh What a Night!, who appeared in a recorded segment filmed earlier on Saturday.
   The destination for Dawson, as well as the other national titleholders, is uncertain, but there have been suggestions it could be the Philippines, and already Lapaz has vowed to support her former competitor should she venture there.
   Dawson says she sees herself as an advocate for education, and entered the competition because she wanted to practise what she preached: to challenge herself and overcome any self-doubt.
   Repeating their roles from last year, Stephen McIvor and Sonia Gray hosted. Stevens was also on the judging panel (particularly appropriate given his similar role in NZ Idol), alongside motivational speaker and social practitioner Areena Deshpande, director of Head2Heels and former Miss Universe New Zealand director Evana Patterson, AJPR boss and BRCA cancer gene awareness champion Anna Jobsz, and arguably the top make-up practitioner and educator in New Zealand, Samala Robinson.
   Thanks to the support of Miss Universe New Zealand’s sponsors, including platinum partners Honda New Zealand, Bench, Skycity, the Quadrant Hotels and Suites, Golden Gowns and Beau Joie, and the fund-raising efforts of each year’s finalists, Miss Universe New Zealand cracked the $100,000 barrier with its donations to Variety, the Children’s Charity, this year.
   The stream was carried on Lucire, The New Zealand Herald and Stuff, and a delayed version will appear on 3Now.

August 23, 2016

H&M’s New Zealand store will be the first to see the Kenzo × H&M collection

Bhavana Bhim/1.45

Oliver Hadlee Pearch

H&M will retail the Kenzo × H&M collaboration announced last month, with the line joining its Sylvia Park store on November 3. With the time difference, this means the New Zealand store is the first to carry the line.
   Since joining Kenzo in 2011, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have set their own fashion agenda with collections full of bold colours and vivid prints, revealed through high-impact shows, artist collaborations and creative digital campaigns. Global influences and traditions are remixed and fused with the energy of the street, resulting in collections that are both inspirational and accessible to their fans around the world. At Kenzo, fashion expresses freedom, joy and individuality for all.
   â€˜We can’t wait to share with everyone the world of Kenzo × H&M, with all of its creativity, fun and love of fashion,’ said Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative adviser at H&M.
   Last month, the brand revealed the four first looks from the collaboration which combine vivid personalities and bright prints of the clothing for a fun atmosphere.
   Amy Sall, a student activist based in New York and founder of SUNU: Journal of African Affairs, Critical Thought & Æsthetics is photographed beside Juliana Huxtable, a 28 year old artist, poet and DJ also based in New York, wearing tiger-print jerseys, roll-neck tops and matching high-waisted leggings. They also wear black leather gloves containing a pink logo print and jacquard knitted tiger-sock shaft boots.
   The second look shows the 19-year-old musician and performance artist based in Paris, Oko Ebombo. He wears a parka with a removable printed collar, block colour tiger-print jeans, plus padded flip-flops with tabi socks. Ebombo also wears a tiger-printed cap with an attached scarf, a printed woven scarf and the tiger-printed cross-body bag.
   The third look shows Isamaya French, a make-up artist based in London, part of the London-based collective, Theo Adams Company. She wears an oversized leather jacket with pink faux shearling lining, with a matching tiger print jersey roll-neck top, and high-waisted leggings.
   The final look is revealed on Anna of the North, a 25-year-old Norwegian musician who gained global attention earlier during the year with her track ‘The Dreamers’. She wears a fresh interpretation by Kenzo’s creative directors, of an iconic design by founder Kenzo Takada: a short folkloric ribbon dress featuring various prints from the collection.
   â€˜With this collaboration with H&M we want to think big, push the boundaries and bring the new energy of Kenzo to everyone around the world,’ say Lim and Leon.—Bhavana Bhim

Oliver Hadlee Pearch

August 9, 2016

Estée Lauder, GHD offer special Pink Products for Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October

Lucire staff/23.42

Estée Lauder and GHD have teamed up to offer a special line of Pink Products supporting the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation’s (NZBCF) Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2016.
   Estée Lauder is supporting the campaign with, first, its Bobbi Brown Art Stick Duo, blending lipstick and liner, in two pink shades (neutral and bright), retailing at NZ$92, with 20 per cent of the retail price donated to NZBCF. The Duo are available at Bobbi Brown studios nationwide and at
   It also offers its Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion Plus, in a limited-edition bottle with a special keyring featuring four charms, including a Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon. The 200 ml lotion is retailing for NZ$100, with 10 per cent of the price being donated to the campaign. It is available at Clinique counters nationally, and online at and
   Under the parent brand, there is the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II with an enamel pink ribbon pin, retailing at NZ$184 for 50 ml; 20 per cent will go to the Foundation. It is available at Estée Lauder counters nationwide and online at and Estée Lauder is also offering its Pink Perfection Color Collection of four Pure Color Envy eye-shadows, one pure Color Envy blush, and one full-size Pure Color Envy lipstick. The palette comes in a pink zip around fabric case, with a mirror on the inside, selling for NZ$79, with 20 per cent going to the Foundation.
   La Mer’s the Lip Balm, with limited-edition packaging, is also offered as part of the October campaign, retailing at NZ$120, with 20 per cent being donated. It is available at La Mer counters and online at
   Finally, GHD has a range of products raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month: its GHD Platinum Styler (NZ$360), GHD V Styler (NZ$310), and GHD Air hair-drier (NZ$250). For every styler sold, NZ$20 will go to the Foundation, and for every hair-drier, NZ$10 will be donated. They are available at approved GHD salons and online at For more information, telephone 0800 880-209 in New Zealand.

June 16, 2016

From supermodels to film: celebrating the work of Peter Lindbergh at Kunsthal Rotterdam

Lucire staff/13.41

Top: An image that kicked off the 1990s, with supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford in New York, appearing on the cover of British Vogue in January 1990. Copyright ©1990 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery). Centre: Wild at Heart, with Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour, Brooklyn, 1991, appearing in Vogue. Copyright ©1991 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery). Above: Kate Moss, Paris, 2015, wearing Giorgio Armani, spring–summer 2015. Copyright ©2015 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery).

An exhibition on Polish-born, French-based photographer Peter Lindbergh, entitled Peter Lindbergh: a Different Vision on Fashion Photography, opens at the Kunsthal Rotterdam on September 10 at 5.30 p.m., running through February 12, 2017. It marks the first Dutch exhibition of Lindbergh’s work.
   Some of the most iconic fashion images of the past generation have been shot by Lindbergh, whose work is regularly seen in various editions of Vogue, and in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Visionaire, Interview and W. Exhibitions of his work have been held around the world beginning with the V&A in 1985. Lindbergh’s black-and-white 1990 Vogue photograph of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford was one that helped cement the reputation of the supermodels, if not arguably kicking off the era itself. Lindbergh’s work gave a sense of reality about his subjects, with his humanist, documentary approach.
   Said Lindbergh in an Art Forum interview earlier this year, ‘A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality. How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?’
   The exhibition features over 220 photographs and includes exclusive and previously unseen material, including personal notes, Polaroids, storyboards, films and prints. It is divided into nine different sections, representing the different themes in Lindbergh’s creative development: Supermodels, Couturiers, Zeitgeist, Dance, the Darkroom, the Unknown, Silver Screen, Icons, and an exclusive Rotterdam Gallery. This final section contains Lindbergh’s work for the October 2015 issue of Vogue Nederland, with Lara Stone and Elise Hupkes at the Port of Rotterdam.
   Lindbergh’s critically acclaimed Models: the Film (1991) will be screened, along with interviews with Grace Coddington, Nicole Kidman, Mads Mikkelsen, Cindy Crawford and Nadja Auermann.
   Guest curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot points out that the exhibition is not chronological, but a narrative about the photographer.
   The Kunsthal Rotterdam noted, ‘Peter Lindbergh introduced a new realism into photography. His timeless images redefine the norms of beauty. Lindbergh’s visual idiom is influenced by the language of film and by playing with the type of the strong, self-willed woman, from the femme fatale to the heroine, but also the female dancer and the actress. His Å“uvre is characterized by portraits that radiate a certain lack of inhibition and physical grace.’
   The exhibition is accompanied by a hardcover monograph, Peter Lindbergh: a Different Vision on Fashion Photography, retailing for €59,99 (link at, US$69·99 (link at or £44·99 (link at Amazon UK), curated by Loriot, designed by Paprika of Montréal, and published by Taschen. The introduction has been authored by Kunsthal director Emily Ansenk, while the book features an essay on Lindbergh’s work by Loriot with commentaries from, inter alia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicole Kidman, Grace Coddington, Cindy Crawford and Anna Wintour.

June 12, 2016

Chloë Delevingne, James Blunt, Sienna Miller, Stefanie Powers, Lavinia Brennan among VIPs at Queen’s Cup Final

Lucire staff/14.30

Tristan Fewings

Cartier has again sponsored the Queen’s Cup Final, where Dubai played La Indiana at the Guards Polo Club in Egham. Cartier has sponsored polo events for 32 years, beginning in 1984 with the International Day at Windsor Great Park at Guards Polo Club. After 28 years, the company decided to sponsor the Queen’s Cup.
   Dubai was victorious at the match, which saw VIPs including Millie Mackintosh, Stefanie Powers, Beatrix Ong and Fabrizio Zappterra, Anton Mosimann, Philipp Mosimann, Mark Mosimann, Anton Rupert Jr and Tatiana Mountbatten, Arizona Muse, Carine Feniou and Laurent Feniou, Charlie Brooks, Chloë Delevingne, Edward Grant, Clementine Nicholson, James Troughton, Carlo Carello, Natasha Rufus Isaacs, Melissa Mills, Saskia Winbergh and Gunnar Winbergh, Patricia Haimes, Dean Piper, Hugo Heathcote, Malcolm Borwick, Simon Marquis, Earl of Woolton and Countess Woolton, Count Riccardo Lanza, Lady Philippa Cadogan, Melissa Mills, Francesca Schwarzenbach-Mulhall, Urs Ernst Schwarzenbach, Sofia Blunt, Taylor Manuela Londono, Lord Rothermere, Pierre Denis and Pia Denis, Sarah Stancliffe, Melanie Vere Nicoll, Lord March and Lady March, Lorraine Candy, Lord Wrottesley and Lady Wrottesley, Olivia Hunt, Marina Fogle, Lydia Forte, Lily Donaldson, Sienna Miller, Phoebe Hitchcox, John Hitchcox, Amber Atherton, James Blunt, Jamie Richards and Lavinia Brennan, Linda Reid, Jo Miller, Phoebe Vela, Johann Rupert, Lady Kitty Spencer, Katherine Baxter, Belinda delucy McKeeve, Kelly Theo, John Rendall, Katherine Baxter, Alexandra Edwards, Sacha Forbes, Amanda Sheppard, Rupert Finch, Nicholas Foulkes, Pierre Lagrange, Nina Suess, Tamara Kalinic, Pattie Boyd, Rod Weston, Tori Cook, Amber Venz Box, Drummond Money-Coutts and Sophia Money-Coutts, Ed Taylor, Gillian de Bono, Greta Morrison, Hanneli Rupert, Heida Reed and Sam Ritzenberg, Hugo Taylor, Jake Parkinson-Smith, Amanda Sheppard, Samira Parkinson-Smith, Manuela Londono, Felix Cooper, Jilly Cooper, Geoffrey Kent, Mark Vestey, and Rosie Vestey.

Tristan Fewings

May 26, 2016

The Body Shop launches Bio-Bridges programme, regenerating and protecting 75,000,000 m² of forest

Lucire staff/12.44

Above: The red-shanked douc, or monkey, one of the endangered species that the Body Shop’s Bio-Bridges programme will protect.

On Tuesday, the Body Shop unveiled its Bio-Bridges programme, which aims to regenerate and protect 75,000,000 m² of forest.
   The programme will not only see forests protected from exploitation and unsustainable harvesting, the Body Shop wants to ensure that animals and plant species within them thrive.
   The first project is the Khe Nuoc Trong forest in north-central Vietnam, home of the red-shanked douc, saola (known as the Asian unicorn and one of the rarest animals on earth), Bengal slow loris and Burmese python. All of these species are threatened by hunting and illegal logging, and the Body Shop notes that nearby habitats are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. The World Land Trust and Viet Nature Conservation Centre are working with the Body Shop, patrolling the forest and setting up camera traps, while working with the local community, promoting sustainable forest use and farming.
   Promoting this project to Body Shop customers is an in-store and online campaign called Help Reggie Find Love, featuring Reggie, a red-shanked douc. Each customer transaction will restore and protect 1 m² of habitat in Khe Nuoc Trong.
   Christopher Davis, director of corporate responsibility and campaigns for the Body Shop, said, ‘We want to focus on actively enriching the world’s biodiversity. These areas of forest in Vietnam are biological treasure troves that are being destroyed through poaching and illegal logging. Bio-Bridges are an innovative way to create protected corridors of biodiversity that allow the wider forest to flourish and its inhabitants to breed and thrive. In Vietnam, within five to ten years we hope to be able to see endangered species multiply. We’ll be promoting Help Reggie Find Love online and in our stores in 65 countries around the world, helping raise awareness of this serious issue in a different way and allowing our customers to make a direct and positive impact with every purchase.’
   The company has embarked on this latest corporate social responsibility programme as part of its new global Enrich Not Exploit commitment launched in February. It recognizes that protecting and promoting biodiversity is good not only for the planet, including combatting climate change, but for the natural ingredients it sources for its products.
   The second Bio-Bridge programme begins in late 2016 in the Garo Hills in India, in partnership with World Land Trust and Wildlife Trust of India.

May 12, 2016

A Billion Lives has world première in New Zealand, revealing powerful forces aiding the tobacco industry

Jack Yan/11.16

Jack Yan

Above: The team behind A Billion Lives, and Doc Edge organizers Dan Shannon and Alex Lee.

Those of us outside the vaping world have probably looked at e-cigarettes, wondering why on earth these could be better for your health. Or we may have thought they were a fad, since the only people I knew who vaped were tech hipsters, who enjoyed vaping as though it was a matter of course, and nothing to be curious about—thereby keeping their habit a closed shop. But then, perhaps they were tired of repeating themselves, and had settled into being comfortable with their e-cigs.
   A Billion Lives is a documentary that takes a look into this world, but it does so much more. The title refers to the number of people who can be saved if they give up smoking, but there are powerful forces at play to ensure that people don’t. And those forces have ensured that there is misinformation about vaping and the potential for the technology to save lives.
   Filmmaker Aaron Biebert, who directed and narrated the film which had its world première in Wellington as part of the Doc Edge Festival, journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Instead, governments spend money spreading lies about e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway to cigarettes, or that one could get formaldehyde poisoning, claims that the film demonstrably refutes. E-cigarettes are not completely safe, and the film acknowledges that, but they have proven to be a successful tool to help those giving up smoking, especially where mainstream solutions have failed.
   In his own country, the US, Biebert points out that governments collect far more revenue from cigarette taxation than from several industries combined, and have no real incentive to cut off the flow of dollars. E-cigarettes, which were invented by pharmacist Hon Lik in China, were conceived as a way to give up smoking, and have been successful for 30 million people around the world. A Billion Lives points out that nicotine is not what causes lung cancer, and that the US Surgeon-General has said as much. What are harmful are the tar and 4,000 chemicals in modern cigarettes. It equates nicotine with coffee in terms of addictiveness, and the figure of 95 per cent less harmful than a typical cigarette featured prominently in the film. Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins.
   Yet as a society, we have come to equate nicotine as being the evil, addictive substance, and that’s no accident.
   This point is made halfway into the film, with a good part of the first section looking into the history of cigarettes (Flintstones sponsor announcements for Winston cigarettes elicited laughs from the audience), and David Goerlitz, the Winston male model from the 1980s, being a particularly effective interviewee, discussing how he went from a smoking advocate earning millions to having a crisis of conscience when his brother developed lung cancer and died. Goerlitz went to the other side, and became a high-profile spokesman who was able to talk in plain language just what governments, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma (which sells patches and gum, and would like to continue doing so) were doing. Health professionals were being marketed to far more than the public, permitting Big Pharma to continue to sell its products, the film notes.
   Biebert was able to get other interviewees at a very high level, including Dr Derek Yach, the former executive director of the World Health Organization, and Dr Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, among others, speaking plainly about how lives could be saved through vaping e-cigarettes, a tool which could get smokers to kick their habit.
   Meanwhile, the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clips—you get the feeling that we had only touched the surface of what was out there, with corporations spending thousands of millions to fund biased studies and get on to our airwaves.
   Beautifully shot and scored, this independently funded feature tells a story about our times and just why so many citizens today are wary of their governments and multinational corporations. Those who oppose global trade agreements, for instance, do not do so in isolation—and while A Billion Lives takes no political side, it does tap into the Zeitgeist of our modern suspicion about what is on our airwaves and what are the motives behind it. Like Adam Curtis, whose documentaries seek to explain the complex in simple terms, Biebert has done the same, narrating and directing, although he appears on camera as well when narrative gaps need to be plugged. He is an honest, frank speaker, and gives the film a personal touch.
   Young smokers who tried e-cigarettes were often people who already smoked and saw them as a way to give up their addiction, and most, Biebert pointed out in a post-screening Q&A, were not even using nicotine in their e-cigarettes.
   Yet the state of California, where Biebert is based, spent $75 million telling us about the evils of e-cigarettes, said the director in his Q&A; while in the film, he points out that US federal funds were being illegally used for lobbying activities. The American Lung Association had deceived the public, too, notes Biebert, who told the audience, ‘If you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.’ The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to ‘Prohibition II’.
   Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its première, said that young people were using e-cigarettes as a way round peer pressure, when people in their circle smoked.
   However, Australia has already banned e-cigarettes, with one interviewee, Vince, who sold them, telling a story about being raided by authorities and now faces losing his home as he fought the government on principle. He believed firmly he was saving lives. There are massive fines for vaping in Brunei and Hong Kong. There were restrictions in New Zealand, too, noted Glover, although those who sought to misinform were technically in breach of the country’s health legislation.
   Biebert says he is neither a smoker nor a vaper; but all good documentary-makers, he had a commitment to get the right information out there. He acknowledges that vapers have not given themselves the best image, either, and that A Billion Lives can only be one small part of getting the truth out.
   â€˜We need to cut the head off the monster,’ said Biebert, ‘and the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.’
   He added, ‘The truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.’
   A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at, while the movie’s Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.

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