Nicky Marshall studied film in Sydney, before returning home to Aotearoa to make short film Mon Desir. The arresting portrait of a housewife on the edge was invited to complete at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, in a section devoted to innovative and original filmmaking. She followed it with two tales of adolescence: short Mirage, and hour-long TV drama House of Sticks, in which Kate Elliot debuted as a bulimic 15-year old. Back in Australia, Marshall directed for a number of high profile soaps, then began working as a producer at animation and effects companies. These days she is a business analyst in Sydney.
I’m aware in a lot of ways, not just as a filmmaker, that the choices I’ve got in my life are far greater than my mother had. Nicky Marshall, quoted in Deborah Shephard's 2000 book Reframing Women: A History of New Zealand Film
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.
Cannes is the place where art meets schlock on the French Riviera. A year before Jane Campion's The Piano shared the festival's top prize, NZ-made documentary Cannes '92 managed to snare almost everyone standing, from Voight to Van Damme — including NZ entrants Alison Maclean (with her movie Crush) and Nicky Marshall (Mon Desir). Vincent Ward mentions the 14 companies involved in his Map of the Human Heart. Baz Luhrmann promotes Strictly Ballroom; Paul Verhoeven completely forgets the question after his Basic Instinct star Sharon Stone interrupts proceedings with a kiss.
Beneath her twinset, repressed housewife Gwyneth (Mandy McMullin) is close to the edge: of attacking the dishwasher, and giving in to lust (thanks to neighbour Kevin Smith). Especially after learning the husband has done the dirty on her. Based on a Fiona Farrell story, Mon Desir blends fantasy, satire and domestic tragedy. Writer/director Nicky Marshall scratches under the fingernails of Kiwi small towns, to reveal “what happens behind the facade of wholesome goodness and normality”. Mon Desir was chosen for the 'Un Certain Regard' section of the Cannes Film Festival.