Alison Maclean has brought an original vision to screen, whether it be in personal, expressionistic films: the seminal Kiwi gothic duo of Kitchen Sink and Crush, the acclaimed junkie redemption song Jesus' Son; or in episodes of genre-leading US television series (Sex in the City, Carnivale, Homicide, The Tudors).
When I look back at the films I've done, they're very much wrapped up in certain preoccupations with my life at that time. They all have a personal genesis somewhere in them. Alison Maclean
Crush is a tale of simmering sexuality set in Rotorua. Moral or sexual ambiguity pervades the narrative of conflicted desire. Its mix of blocked-up writer, spurting mud-pools, infatuated teen, eel farm, American femme fatale (Marcia Gay Harden), noir motels, limp Pongas, twisted metal and wheelchairs, plays out in a symbolic NZ landscape not seen before (or since). Director Alison Maclean's debut feature (co-written with Anne Kennedy, produced by Bridget Ikin) played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
A talkback radio operator is forced to stand in for the regular host when he walks out because of a personal crisis. In between trying to answer calls, organize a replacement and discuss odd topics with a succession of callers, the flustered operator makes a surprising connection with another lost soul. Auckland's urban soul is captured with distinctive assurance in this neglected television short film from writer (with Geoff Chapple) and director Alison Maclean.
“An ironic comedy about a disconnected New Zealand family” is the tagline to this early Alison Maclean short. Recently widowed Nan (Yvonne Lawley) assesses her life and the roles prescribed by her family as she readies a Sunday roast. Her new plans — “I won’t be able to make the Christmas Cake this year” — rattle the shackles of her Old Testament-bashing husband and her ex-All Black son. Nan was a comeback leading role for Lawley after time away raising a family. Written with playwright Norelle Scott, Maclean’s short screened with the About Face TV series.
In the vein of 'We are the World' and 'Do They Know It’s Christmas', 'Don’t Go' rallied NZ musicians to express their opposition to the proposed 1985 All Black tour of South Africa. Don McGlashan, Chris Knox and Rick Bryant were the front row for this one-off single: a catchy number written by McGlashan, Frank Stark and Geoff Chapple. The video — directed by Alison Maclean and shot by Stuart Dryburgh — never attempts to get in the way of the message, placing the ensemble cast in front of red, white and black backdrops (interspersed with rugby imagery).
Mystery and menace abound in this debut film from Alison Maclean. Made when Maclean was an Elam art student, the experimental short plays with gender and racial stereotypes by constantly thwarting narrative expectations. What there is of a plot consists of a woman emerging from the sea and a 'centrepiece' pursuit leading to a confrontation between two characters: a man and a woman (both played by the same actor). Scripted, shot and edited by Maclean it marked the beginning of a fertile collaboration between Maclean and producer Bridget Ikin.