Schooled at Unitec, Auckland University and Juice TV, King-Jones has made a run of NZ film festival-selected documentaries in partnership with Errol Wright: Te Whānau o Aotearoa, The Last Resort, Operation 8 and The 5th Eye (about homelessness, land sales, terror raids and surveillance respectively). With Alister Barry, she co-directed the award-nominated Hot Air; she also edited his A Civilised Society.
I just hope that audiences will get a first-hand experience of the people who were targeted. If you are able to get a broader picture of where this has all come from, maybe you will go away from it being more aware of what's going on. Abi King-Jones on terror raids documentary Operation 8, The NZ Herald, 8 April 2011
No Ordinary Sheila unfurls the life story of the adventurous, multi-talented Sheila Natusch: from first opening her eyes to nature while growing up on Stewart Island, as the daughter of a ranger and an artist; through befriending Janet Frame during teacher training, to the many books Natusch went on to write and/or illustrate. Filmmaker Hugh Macdonald (This is New Zealand) directs this portrait of a lover of nature and life, her joy unbowed by age. Natusch died on 10 August 2017, just days after watching the film as part of a packed house at the 2017 Wellington Film Festival.
This documentary questions New Zealand’s involvement in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance. The examination of contemporary intelligence gathering takes in NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, entrepreneur-in-exile Kim Dotcom, and NZ Prime Minister John Key. It is framed around the 2008 sabotage of a Blenheim spy station by a priest, a teacher and a farmer: the 'Waihopai three' cut open a plastic dome protecting a satellite dish, in protest at the base’s role in the US-led 'War on Terror'. Directors Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones made 2011 terror raids documentary Operation 8.
Moa-nominated for Best Documentary, this full-length title chronicles two decades of political football between New Zealanders hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and followers of the business as usual approach. Co-directing with his longtime editor Abi King-Jones, Alister Barry (The Hollow Men) continues his patented approach of melding new interviews with raids on the news archives. Critic Graeme Tuckett argued that the film makes “a compelling case that although the science was settled by 1990, we’ve allowed politics and corporations to mute our response to a very real crisis”.
On October 15 2007, citing evidence of guerilla camps involving firearms training, police raided 60 houses across NZ, many of them in Ruatoki, near Whakatane. In production for almost as many years as the ensuing legal proceedings, this provocative documentary proposes that the so-called “anti-terrorism” raids were bungled, racist and needlessly terrifying to children. The film’s subtitle ‘Deep in the Forest’ is inspired by ex Red Squad second-in-command Ross Meurant, who argues that as police move into specialist units they grow increasingly paranoid.
This Alister Barry-directed documentary is about the National Party and the 2005 election; it was made in conjunction with Nicky Hager’s book written from leaked party e-mails. Barry follows novice MP, and then leader, Don Brash through a hyper-charged era in NZ politics as National attempts to reconcile a political agenda with electability, and to unseat Helen Clark’s Labour government. Speechwriters, advertising agencies, pollsters and party donors all feature, as do Brash’s infamous Orewa speeches, Exclusive Brethren “attack” pamphlets and Iwi/Kiwi billboards.
This documentary looks at the new right ideology that transformed public education in the 80s and 90s and the schism it caused with teachers. Interviews with parents, teachers and unionists are cut together with archive footage of treasury officials and politicians advocating that schools be run as businesses. There are vexed board of trustees' meetings, an infamous deal between Avondale College and Pepsi, and teachers take their opposition from the classroom to the streets. The film is the third in Alister Barry's series critical of neo-liberal reform in NZ.
Filmed in 2002, this documentary observes a group of people living on the streets of Wellington. After being moved on from Cuba Mall, the group makes their home by the Cenotaph (near Parliament) and sets up a "village of peace". Led by the dreadlocked 'Brother' they attempt to gain an audience with the government; their self-proclaimed marae provokes police, public, politicians and media. Reviewer Graeme Tuckett called the film a "landmark in New Zealand documentary making". Brother (aka Ben Hana) later gained a local profile as Courtenay Place's 'Blanket Man'.
Youngsters Romeo, Ed, and Polly wait in two cars after dark while their parents are inside drinking. It’s a situation many Kiwis would recognise: cars without parents outside the bar or rugby club. Soon cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship. Winning performances, and the tender mix of comedy and romance saw the tale of a Te Kaha pub carpark become an international hit. Two Cars won a boot-full of awards, launched Waititi’s career, and was the second New Zealand short to be nominated for an Academy Award. Waititi infamously feigned sleep during the 2005 ceremony.