This morbidly funny short, made by students of Auckland's Media Design School, depicts the demise of 26 alphabetical and animated animals at the hands of nature’s greatest enemy — the human. Framed as a father possum (Phil Greeves) reading his children their favourite bedtime story, the alliterative animal deaths are undercut with cheerful giggling from the two young possums. The film won acclaim at festivals worldwide —screening at South by Southwest in 2016, and taking out Best Animated film in the Comic-Con Film Festival later that year.
Alone in his cell, a deeply disturbed old man delivers a psychotic monologue, and reveals an alarming secret in this darkly funny claymation short from the workshop of Tom Reilly. Reilly made his first claymation short in 2001 and is one of just a few New Zealand animators using this technique. Three more shorts and a children's TV series won him the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2003. He is now directing live action TV and commercials and his documentary on a wesitie misfit car-yard operator — Gordonia — was released to positive reviews in 2010.
Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby was a sharp-witted comedy about an appallingly politically incorrect relief teacher. In this episode, the irreverent Mr Gormsby (artfully played by David McPhail) is the unlikely candidate to teach a Human Relationships class. Later, a used condom is discovered in the wharenui and Gormsby's powers of deduction lead him to the culprit. The "darkly funny" comedy (Sydney Morning Herald) was partly based on a former teacher of director Danny Mulheron and was nominated for Best Script and Best Comedy at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards.
Based partly on two tragedies that occurred in Europe, this darkly comic tale centres on a butcher who works near Parliament. The butcher leaves his young son to handle the customers so that he can go upstairs and engage in some hanky panky with his wife. But with rent payments due, underlying tensions soon erupt into bloody nightmare. Director Stuart McKenzie and his real-life partner, actor Miranda Harcourt, would later collaborate again on the feature film For Good.
The dark arts of the maul and scrum are shown in a new light in this short horror from Wellington filmmaker Colin Hodson. A failed try out for the local team spurs young rugby player Will (Ian Lesa) into greater efforts at training; after all, as the cardboard cutout rugby hero in the shop window tells him: “no guts, no glory”. But when he discovers some oval-shaped oddities in the steamy changing room, he’s given cause to question his ambitions. Maul screened at New Zealand and Melbourne Film Festivals in 2013. Ex-All Black Dallas Seymour plays the coach.
“In the dark and scary depths of a subway, one young man finds fear has a new name: FIZZ.” Jemaine Clement (pre-Flight of the Conchords fame) is the young man who faces up to a sentient soda machine in this short from Jason Stutter. Made for $2000 and filmed over two wintry Wellington nights, Fizz screened at festivals including Locarno, New York, and Clermont-Ferrand. Stutter would successfully repeat the combo of dark wit and dangerous appliance in his Careful with that … series; Clement starred in Stutter’s debut feature Tongan Ninja (2002).
The Lounge Bar marks the second film by legendary music/theatre group The Front Lawn, which began as Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair. The plot: two men and a woman (Lucy Sheehan) meet at a deserted bar. Pivoting on amnesia and woven together by music, two time frames are seamlessly combined and a darkly humorous plot unfolds. The film got wide global release (including Ireland, Germany and the USA). It was a finalist in the first American Film Festival. McGlashan later formed band The Mutton Birds; Sinclair continued as a filmmaker.
Youngsters Romeo, Ed, and Polly wait in two cars after dark while their parents are inside drinking. It’s a situation many Kiwis would recognise: cars without parents outside the bar or rugby club. Soon cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship. Winning performances, and the tender mix of comedy and romance saw the tale of a Te Kaha pub carpark become an international hit. Two Cars won a boot-full of awards, launched Waititi’s career, and was the second New Zealand short to be nominated for an Academy Award. Waititi infamously feigned sleep during the 2005 ceremony.
The last novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson revolves around a freezing plant worker (Peter McCauley) in an interracial marriage. For this little seen movie adaptation, the role of an English remittance man was expanded in an attempt to cast Peter O'Toole (New Zealand-born Bruce Spence got the role). Morrieson's view of small-town Aotearoa is a dark one, as he explores racism, violence, suicide and blackmail. Bruno Lawrence contributes to Jonathan Crayford's jazz-tinged score, and features in the wedding band. The freezing works scenes were shot at the defunct plant in Patea.
This episode of Chris Stapp and Matt Heath's bawdy, bogan, BSA baiting TV variety series spoof is a Bullying Special featuring 12 year old, gingered-headed Maurice (from the South Island) futilely attempting to make new friends in a typical Auckland school. Meanwhile, Constables Rob Bogan and Neville Pratt deal out an "art lesson they won't forget" to unsuspecting graffiti artists. Stuntman Randy Campbell's "dangerous, reckless and bloody stupid" attempt to jump off the back of the studio results in yet another "dark day for the NZ stunt industry".