In 1982 bad weather left Mark Inglis and Phil Doole trapped for 13 days in a crevasse, close to the summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook. No Mean Feat chronicles the path taken by Inglis since — from rescue, and the discovery he would lose his lower limbs, to his reinvention as research scientist, winemaker, and paralympic cyclist. In 2001 cameras followed Inglis back to Cook, where he attempted another climb using custom-designed prosthetic legs. Topped off by stunning aerial footage of Mt Cook, No Mean Feat won best documentary at the 2003 NZ TV Awards.
Paul Henry surprises bungy jumping entrepreneur Alan John Hackett at Auckland Airport with the immortal words, "This is your life". The many guests in this 70-min. special include childhood go-kart friends, bungying celebs and police boat chief Lloyd McIntosh, who recalls the day he witnessed Hackett leaping off Auckland Harbour Bridge as "a highlight from his career". Hackett later stole up, and leapt off, the Eiffel Tower (less Man on a Wire, more man with rubber rope). Adds his mother Margaret: "I'm buggered if I consider him famous. He's just AJ."
Hugh Sundae travels to the world's second-largest landlocked country: Mongolia. Normally unenthusiastic about travel or partaking in foods doused in yak butter, Sundae discovers that the presence of a camera adds courage to his journey. The courage proves helpful while sharing accommodation and food in a series of gers (also known as yurts) — portable houses used by the nomads of Central Asia. Sundae's trip includes camels, wrestling, Mongolian throat singing — plus trying to survive a meal made from sour milk and curd, without causing offense.
Tusi Tamasese’s first feature tells the story of a taro farmer (played by real life farmer Fa’afiaula Sagote) who finds the courage to stand tall for his family and culture, and stand up to sceptical villagers. Variety called it “compelling drama”. Though previous films (e.g. Flying Fox on a Freedom Tree) had told stories inspired by Samoan writers, The Orator was the first feature written and directed by a Samoan — and the first filmed in Samoan. When it debuted in September 2011 at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, it won a special jury mention in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) section.
This self-funded feature follows the travails of Lexi (Request Ahomana), a young Pacific Island Kiwi cleaning for a bitter elderly woman, and struggling to find her identity in the town of Oamaru. A meeting with a young man (Dean Hanns) provides her with a prospective ride out of town — but obstacles on that road include the young man's past, the gambling addict sister she shares a flat with, and finding the courage to chase her dreams. Lexi marks the first feature film written, directed and produced by Wayne Turner. In the excerpt, Lexis argues with her sister.
Pioneering reality TV show Flatmates trained its cameras on the home life of a bunch of young Gen X/Gen Y Kiwis. In this second episode the flatmates clean up after a party gone wild — the landlord ain't happy — and discuss flat finances, chore rosters, gender politics, and Anzac Day. Christian mourns his first love, a Finnish exchange student. Meanwhile Vanessa's pronouncements on apt lecture-wear reveal why she became a minor celebrity (she later co-hosted youth show The Drum). And cameraman/flattie Craig finds the courage to reveal a complicating crush.
This short documentary follows refugee Mitchell Pham from a Vietnam War prison camp to a new home in New Zealand. Director Sally Tran — a 2013 Killer Films Internship Scholarship recipient — uses an interview with Pham as an adult, and live action mixed with animation to recreate the harrowing childhood journey. DIY more than CGI, the animation process was based on Vietnamese folded paper-craft. Requiring 20 volunteers, the 10,000 animated pieces of paper (and a rich score from The Sound Room) provide suggestive weight to Pham’s story of survival and courage.
In director Grant Lahood's 2013 Tropfest NZ entry a young boy takes Kiwi ingenuity to the next level by creatively adapting his gumboots to net sporting victory. But it’s a risky move. Sprung marks a return for Lahood to his dialogue free short film beginnings (eg. Cannes award-winner The Singing Trophy, and his debut Snail’s Pace). Like those shorts, Sprung has a devilish sense of humour, and a crisply edited contest of wills. The ode to the courage of the young and the unpredictability of science was scored by veteran film and TV composers Plan 9.
This episode from the TV3 series of mini World War I stories looks at Harold Gillies and Henry Pickerill, two pioneers of plastic surgery who grafted “new hope onto despair” for soldiers whose faces had been demolished by war. The short details new methods the pair developed at Sidcup in England, a specialist unit set up by Gilles. It conveys the bravery of the surgeons and nurses in the face of appalling injuries, as well as the courage and “unquenchable optimism” of the patients. Presented by Hilary Barry, Great War Stories screened during 3 News.
Created by New Zealand Film & Television School tutor Ness Simons, Pot Luck became the country's first lesbian web series. It follows three Wellington friends who get together every week for a shared dinner. The trio challenge each other to achieve the impossible — Mel (actor/director Nikki Si'ulepa) has to keep her promiscuous hands to herself until shy Debs (British actor Anji Kreft) finds romance, while Beth (Tess Jamieson-Karaha) needs to find the courage to tell her mother she's gay. The six-part web series was funded partly by a crowdfunding campaign and various grants.