The Secret Life of John Rowles

Television, 2008 (Full Length)

The meteoric career of one of NZ’s greatest entertainers is examined in this documentary. John Rowles went from a Kawerau childhood to stardom in London at 21; but, after headlining in Hawaii and Las Vegas, he saw it all slip away. Those roofing ads and near bankruptcy followed, but Rowles has retained his self belief and that voice. A stellar cast of interviewees analyse his strengths and weaknesses, including Sir Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Neil Finn and late promoter Phil Warren. Amongst the star cameos, John’s sister Cheryl Moana explains the downside of his best-known local hit.

C'mon - Series One, Final Episode

Television, 1967 (Full Length Episode)

This is the final episode in the first series of New Zealand's classic 60s pop show. Host Peter Sinclair seems to have no idea that the show will return for another two years. Meanwhile Mr Lee Grant, Sandy Edmonds, Herma Keil, Bobby Davis, Tommy Adderley, a rocking Ray Woolf and the Chicks run through the big hits of 1967, managing to compress 21 songs into a frenetic half hour. Sinclair promises "big sounds, fun sounds, wild sounds" as the show ranges from blues-rock through ballads and 'Edelweiss', to a nod to the children watching with 'Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead'.

Smash Palace

Film, 1981 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Smash Palace is a Kiwi cinema classic and launched Roger Donaldson's American career. Al Shaw (a brilliant, brooding Bruno Lawrence) is a racing car driver who now runs a wrecker's yard in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. His French wife Jacqui is unhappy there and leaves him, taking up with Al's best mate. When she restricts Al's access to his young daughter, his frustration explodes and he goes bush with the girl, desperate not to lose her too. "There's no road back" runs the tagline. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "amazingly accomplished".

Mega Time Squad

Film, 2018 (Trailer)

John (Anton Tennet) is a small town crim with a big time dream: to abscond from Thames to Paeroa with his boss’s sister. A robbery gone wrong and a mysterious Chinese bracelet send his plans into a spin, and he finds that going back to the future has a price. Hong Kong action movies, Kiwi slapstick and time travel head to the heartland in Tim van Dammen’s follow-up to Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song. Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows) plays the villain; Milo Cawthorne and Yoson An are also in the cast. Mega Time Squad was selected for the Fantasia festival in Montreal.

A State of Siege

Short Film, 1978 (Excerpts)

A State of Siege is the story of a retired art teacher dealing with isolation and loneliness, culminating in a stormy, terrifying night. This is a six-minute excerpt. Vincent Ward's acclaimed short — adapted from a Janet Frame novel — was made when he was at Ilam art school. The Evening Post called it "the most sensitive and intelligent film that has ever been made in New Zealand". San Francisco Chronicle praised: "Ward creates more horror in this low budget movie with his play of light and shadow than Stanley Kubrick was able to create in the whole of The Shining." 

The Breaker Upperers

Film, 2018 (Trailer)

Packed with Kiwi comedy talent, The Breaker Upperers is the tale of two women whose business is ending other people's relationships. Leading both the cast and the filmmakers are Madeleine Sami (Super City) and Jackie van Beek (who played a wannabe vampire in What We Do in the Shadows). Sami's character finds herself falling for a teen (James Rolleston) who needs to dump his girlfriend. The film won its first rave review when it debuted at US festival South by Southwest, in March 2018. New Zealand release followed in May. The cast includes Rima Te Wiata and Rose Matafeo.

The Living Room - Series Two, Episode Ten

Television, 2004 (Full Length Episode)

This final episode from series two of the arts series is presented by Taika Cohen (aka Taika Waititi) and his alter ego, silly German Gunter Schliemann. Taika makes short film Tama Tū, performs as vampire Diego (later reborn in What We Do in the Shadows) and performs Taika’s Incredible Show at Bats Theatre. Included are scenes from his early, little-seen short film John & Pogo. Also featured are artist Siren Maclaine (aka Siren Deluxe) and her feminist erotica; Caroline Robinson’s large-scale Auckland motorway sculptures; and comics artist Colin Wilson (Judge Dredd, Blueberry).

The Gravy - Series Four, Episode One (Taranaki)

Television, 2009 (Full Length Episode)

Little Bushman muso Warren Maxwell goes west in this edition of The Gravy, to meet a trio of artists creating work in the shadow of Mt Taranaki. Waru Wharehoka, an autistic painter, makes abstract works, is obsessed with weapons and zombies, and takes Maxwell on a paddle beneath New Plymouth. Assemblage artist Dale Copeland scavenges plane wrecks on the mountain and dead friend's teeth for her art. And photographer Fiona Clark discusses why she used colour film to snap her controversial 1975 drag queen images, and using a photo to help save the Waitara River.

Unfurnished Room for Rent

Short Film, 1997 (Full Length)

As a trench coat-clad protagonist enters the room, the jazzy soundtrack and copious shadows promise a claymation exercise in film noir. But the room advertised in director Barry Prescott’s first short film is no ordinary rental. It soon becomes apparent that a more unusual threat is responsible for the lack of furnishings and tenants — and it threatens the man and his oversized revolver. Television has been accused of rotting brains, but this short takes the allegation to the next level. Unfurnished Room for Rent screened at the Palm Springs and Seattle film festivals.

Grunt Machine - Split Enz (Spellbound)

Television, 1975 (Excerpts)

This simple but very effectively choreographed clip is one of the few pieces of music footage shot for 70s rock show The Grunt Machine that has been preserved. The extended instrumental intro allows Phil Judd nearly two minutes of pacing and hovering in the Avalon Studio shadows before he confronts the camera at his malevolent best. The soon to depart Wally Wilkinson is on guitar; time in Australia has cemented the band's stage personas, Noel Crombie's black and white costumes are a visual treat, and the result is a perfect document of Mental Notes-era Enz.