If director and producer Peter Coates was a superhero, he’d surely be ‘Renaissance Man’. His contribution to championing the arts on television is arguably heroic, and his career multi-faceted. From 1971 to 2004 Coates produced, directed or scripted hundreds of TV productions covering a smorgasbord of topics, from operas to soap operas, and from portraits of New Zealand artists to rugby coaching films.
By 2001 Russell Crowe was an international star, thanks to award-winning performances in The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Born in New Zealand and raised on both sides of the Tasman, the Oscar winner continues to act in feature films, and in 2014 made his movie directing debut with Aussie hit The Water Diviner. Once known as Auckland singer Russ le Roq, Crowe also sings in band The Ordinary Fear of God.
Costa Botes has had a long independent career as a director of drama (Stalin’s Sickle, Saving Grace ), a run of feature-length documentaries (Angie, Candyman, The Last Dogs of Winter) and at least one film that is very difficult to classify (Forgotten Silver). Botes also spent many years as a film critic, with a reputation for an acerbic wit.
Barry Shaw wrote about television for more than two decades. A longtime critic for both The Auckland Star and The NZ Herald, he was on hand to note many key moments in Kiwi screen history. Shaw passed away in August 2011, at the age of 82.
Peter Bland’s creative career encompasses two cultures, dozens of poems, the creation of Wellington’s Downstage Theatre and at least 30 screen roles – among them, his star turn as conman Wes Pennington in Came a Hot Friday.
Keisha Castle-Hughes found fame at 12, when Whale Rider became an international hit. Her debut performance as spirited Māori girl Pai scored an Oscar nomination. She followed a variety of international roles with local success, including TV show The Almighty Johnsons and acclaim and a Qantas award for telemovie Piece of My Heart. In 2015 she joined the cast of hit series Game of Thrones.
Alongside partner Shane Loader, Andrea Bosshard makes and distributes films through indie filmmaking initiative Torchlight Films. Dominion Post critic Graeme Tuckett called the pair's second feature Hook, Line and Sinker “likeable, admirable and hugely enjoyable”. Third feature The Great Maiden's Blush was released to acclaim — and awards — in 2016.
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early shorts won awards — the noirish Planet Man was the first NZ short to win Critic's Week at Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and television work, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for others.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first New Zealand feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised drama Sylvia, based on teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of 1985's best films. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.
Alison Maclean has brought an original vision to screen, whether it be in personal, expressionistic films: the Kiwi gothic duo of Kitchen Sink and her first feature, Crush, acclaimed junkie redemption song Jesus' Son, and her adaptation of Eleanor Catton novel The Rehearsal — or in high profile television series like Sex in the City and The Tudors.