Chinese New Zealander Roseanne Liang took an unusual path into filmmaking. She first made a splash with Banana in a Nutshell, based on her own cross-cultural romance with a European Kiwi. The documentary won multiple awards, including SPADA New Filmmaker of 2005; then she turned it into movie rom-com My Wedding and Other Secrets. Liang has also directed Berlin-winning short Take 3, and hit web series Flat3.
Probably the most difficult thing was separating the documentary from the film. Even though the documentary forms the backbone of the film, you really have to find out what makes fiction work. Roseanne Liang, on making a movie out of her documentary Banana in a Nutshell
A trio of mysteriously bloody and bruised women order tea in a cafe in St Kevin's Arcade. The sugar debate gets a K Road twist as they talk boobs, revenge porn, and wonder if the cafe sugar bowl has drugs hidden in it (riffing off a local urban legend). A trip to the toilet before last orders sees the cafe transforming into a dance floor, providing a groovy testimonial to the imaginative powers of the sugar hit. This edition of the series of short films exploring life on K’ Rd was directed by Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets), and stars the lead actors from her web series Flat3.
Comedian (and rooster) Oscar Kightley fronts this 2013 beginner’s guide to the Chinese zodiac. His mission: to explore the 12 oriental star signs. As the Kiwi population heads towards one in six being of Asian origin, Kightley surveys a cavalcade of contemporary Kiwi personalities for their views on stargazing, from his Harry co-star Sam Neill to lawyer Mai Chen. This excerpt is a potted history of the oriental zodiac, aided by animation; then it's enter the dragon. Made for TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary strand it was directed by bro’Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell.
Aucklander Emily Chu (award-winner Michelle Ang) is a young ‘banana’ (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) hoping to conceal a cross-cultural tryst from her prudish Chinese parents in this romantic dramedy. Director Roseanne Liang’s feature debut draws on her autobiographical ‘video diary’ Banana in a Nutshell, which screened at the 2005 International Film Festival. In the audience was producer John Barnett, who immediately offered to fund an adaptation. On its March 2010 release My Wedding gained several five star reviews and strong box office.
Ingeniously unfolding three tales in unison, Take 3 follows a trio of young asian-Kiwi actors on one horrifying day of auditions. Director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) mines comedy from the competitive, cookie-cutter world of casting, while questioning the way minority actors are asked to perpetuate old-fashioned stereotypes. The stars are My Wedding lead Michelle Ang, Katlyn Wong (comedy A Thousand Apologies), and Li Ming Hu (Shortland Street doctor Li Mei Chen). Take 3 won special mention in the Generation 14plus section at Berlin film fest.
Being Eve was a popular and self-aware comedy-drama for teens. It launched the career of actor Fleur Saville, who played 15-year-old amateur teen anthropologist Eve. This excerpt from episode 22 of the second series sees angst and ambition collide, as Eve dreams of Hollywood success via a school Shakespeare production. Shakespeare himself makes a cameo (as Eve's muse), while she struggles with her original vision for the classic. But will she be upstaged by Sam? The series won best drama at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards, and fostered young directing and producing talent.