Costa Botes has been an independent film-maker in New Zealand since the early 1980s. His short film Stalin’s Sickle won the jury prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in 1988. Forgotten Silver, a mock-documentary co-written & co-directed with Peter Jackson in 1995 created a national sensation in 1995. It won a special critics prize at the Venice Film Festival, and has become a cult favourite worldwide.
Costa’s first feature film, Saving Grace (1997), was selected for competition at Valladolid, Asia-Pacific, and Fantasporto Film Festivals. He documented the making of Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy Lord of the Rings trilogy from 1999 to 2003 with a matching trio of feature length documentaries. These were released in a limited edition DVD box set in 2006, and later included in the definitive blu-ray collection released in 2011.
Costa established his own production company, Lone Pine Film & TV Productions in 2005 to make independent documentaries. These have included Struggle No More (2006), a biography of NZ’s greatest unknown band, and Yes That’s Me (2008) about a blues musician with manic depression. He photographed, produced and edited the documentary, Lost In Wonderland in 2009, mentoring its young director, Zoe McIntosh. This premiered at the NZ Film Festival and won awards for photography and best documentary the following year at the Qantas NZ Film & TV Awards. Costa wrote and produced another film for Zoe, a 35mm short called Day Trip (2010). This was selected to screen at numerous international festivals including Tribeca, Clermont Ferrand, and Hawaii. It won the Signis Award at Espression En Corto in Mexico, and best short film at the Montreal First Peoples Film Festival. Costa's next documentary feature, Candyman: The David Klein Story (2010), was about the eccentric American candy genius who invented Jelly Belly jellybeans. It premiered at Slamdance and Hot Docs in 2010, and won the Director’s Choice best documentary award at the Rincon Puerto Rico Film Festival. He followed this with two documentary features: Daytime Tiger (2011), a film about mania; and The Last Dogs of Winter (2012), about a man fighting to preserve rare Inuit sled dogs from extinction. The Last Dogs of Winter had its world premiere as an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Act of Kindness (2015), a documentary about a young New Zealander’s experiences in post-Genocide Rwanda won the Best Editing award at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Costa also wrote and executive produced another short dramatic film for director Zoe McIntosh. The World in Your Window (2017) has screened at many top international festivals and won awards at Clermont-Ferrand, Tokyo, Melbourne, FlickerFest, Vancouver, Prague and Tahiti. His most recent work, Angie (2018) premiered at the NZ International Film Festival. It was described by one critic as a “deep, dark, daring wonder”. Another critic wrote, “Costa Botes has been making films for over 30 years: ANGIE is his best yet. He has always had a deft hand when it comes to emotional material. He has the ability to melt into the beautifully framed background and let the subjects speak, his flawless editing weaving a narrative spell”.