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Emma (documentary)

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Directed byToby Longbottom
Produced byPaula Penfold
Release date
24 November 2020
Running time
73 minutes
CountryNew Zealand

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Emma is a 2020 New Zealand documentary film produced for Stuff.co.nz. The documentary is about Russian-New Zealand adoptee Emma who went to Russia to meet her birth family for the first time. Emma won best documentary at the 2021 New Zealand Voyager Media Awards.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The documentary was funded by NZ On Air.[7]


Emma Barrett, born Yekaterina Viktorovna Finenko was born and adopted from a small town in Pskov, Russia.[8][9]

She was placed into a Russian orphanage after she was born. Emma was adopted by a New Zealand couple when she was three years old. She was born with feral alcohol syndrome and was later diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder.[10]

Emma ended up in foster care in New Zealand after she was adopted by the couple but was then back with her adoptive father, Terry. Terry was interviewed for the documentary but passed away during the production.

She wanted to know about her birth family in Russia. Fellow Russian-New Zealand Adoptee and founder of the organisation, I'm Adopted, Alex Gilbert[11] appears in the documentary for the search of her relatives. Managing to find a connection to Emma's sister during an evening of research.[12]

Emma travelled to Pskov, Russia to then meet her birth family. She met her biological sister, her family and her birth mother.[13]


  • Emma Barrett
  • Paula Penfold
  • Ilya Yurievich
  • Terry Barrett
  • Alex Gilbert


Emma was met with positive reviews. Drew Ambrose & Paul Cutler who are judges for the 2021 Voyager Media Awards called it a remarkable tear-jerker that tugged at the heartstrings. Emily Writes at thespinoff.co.nz called the documentary a gentle, uplifting and heartbreaking complex.[12]


  • Best Documentary - 2021 New Zealand Voyager Media Awards[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "2021 Winners". NPA | News Publishers' Association. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  2. Saturday; May 2021, 29; Stuff, 6:23 am Press Release:. "Stuff Shines At 2021 Voyager Media Awards | Scoop News". www.scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  3. "Paula Penfold". Big Screen Symposium. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  4. "A documentary three years in the making: How Stuff Circuit's Emma was created". Russian Resolution. 2020-12-07. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  5. "2021 Finalists | Voyager Media Awards | NPA". NPA | News Publishers' Association. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  6. Zealand, Air New. "Air New Zealand IFE : Emma". www.airnewzealand.co.nz. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  7. "NZ On Air". www.nzonair.govt.nz. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  8. "Emma: A heartbreaking and extraordinarily uplifting documentary". Stuff. 2020-11-17. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  9. "Year in Review: Sinead Boucher, Stuff". stoppress.co.nz. 2020-12-21. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  10. Monday; November 2020, 16; Circuit, 5:54 am Press Release: Stuff. "Stuff Circuit's Special Project 'Emma' Has Landed | Scoop News". www.scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  11. Penfold, Paula. "To Russia for Love". interactives.stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Review: Stuff's web series Emma is gentle, uplifting and heartbreakingly complex". The Spinoff. 2020-11-15. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  13. "A documentary three years in the making: How Stuff Circuit's Emma was created". Stuff. 2020-11-17. Retrieved 2021-07-26.

External links[edit]

Category:2020 films Category:2020 documentary films Category:New Zealand films Category:New Zealand documentary films Category:English-language films

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