David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Stephen Latty has built up an eclectic CV encompassing short films, a run of documentaries, and 2010 feature film Russian Snark. His collaborations with director Michael Heath include two docos on modernist painter Edith Collier, and spellbinding images for 50-minute drama A Small Life. As a director, he has chronicled musicians in Opera in the Outback (with Kiri Te Kanawa) and country music tale Maple on the Hill.
Niki Caro's near wordless Sure to Rise was nominated for best short film at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. Four years later her debut feature Memory and Desire was invited to Cannes. Caro followed it with Whale Rider, winner of more than 27 awards, and still one of New Zealand's most successful films abroad. Since then Caro has directed everywhere from vineyards in France to mining towns in Minnesota.
Judith Fyfe’s career in broadcasting has placed her before and behind the cameras. A celebrated oral historian, she began her TV career as a reporter, and went on to work on consumer rights show Fair Go and pioneering drama Marching Girls. She was a core element in Gaylene Preston’s respected documentary War Stories, and co-founder of the Oral History Archive at the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Kirsty Cameron started in short film and art installation, before costume designing the first of around 20 feature films — including the acclaimed Whale Rider, Slow West, and No. 2. Her list of awards also includes The Orator and TV movie Jean, about aviator Jean Batten. Cameron's third short as writer/ director, teen fable The Lethal Innocents, was invited to festivals in Sweden, Germany and the USA.
Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.
Kiwi-born Samoan Nathaniel Lees began acting on stage in 1975, and on screen in 1984. Since then he has become a leading force in the development of Pacific Island theatre in Aotearoa, and brought his distinctive baritone voice to everything from The Billy T James Show to The Matrix.
Some jobs never make the headlines; in the screen industry, one of those unsung positions is the production manager. After seven years on film sets in Asia, Brian Walden returned home in the mid 70s to production manage the shoots of many classic TV dramas, from Hunter’s Gold to Hanlon. In 1985 he went freelance, keeping a firm hand on shoots involving horses, hospital porters, vampires and underwater aeroplanes.
In her 10 year tenure as Māori Affairs correspondent for One News, Tini Molyneux fronted some of the biggest news stories in New Zealand, let alone Māoridom — including the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi, the birth of the Māori Party and the 2007 Urerewa police raids. She began her 30 year television career as a newsreader for Te Karere, and went on to present and report stories for Waka Huia and Marae.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.