After tackling documentaries about sporting legends and surveillance, Kiwi director Justin Pemberton (Chasing Great) began his most ambitious project yet. Inspired by the brick-sized bestseller by French economist Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century examines the disproportionate amount of cash and power wielded by a small global minority. The French-Kiwi co-production blends talking heads (including Piketty and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz) and pop culture imagery of the rich and famous. Jean-Benoît Dunckel (from French duo Air) supplies the music.
This headline-grabbing 1979 documentary examines inequality via interviews with an unemployed student, a young widow and a Porirua family of eight; plus visits to a Fijian village and a Hong Kong housing estate. The film's arguments that business and government monopolies had caused poverty in “egalitarian New Zealand”, and that NZ trade practices had added to it elsewhere, displeased Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. State television refused to screen the Greg Stitt-directed documentary; CORSO, the charity who commissioned it, was removed from the government’s funding list.
Before he achieved worldwide fame as an actor, Sam Neill directed documentary films for the National Film Unit. This film examines the philosophy, early achievements and frustrations of one of New Zealand's most innovative architects, Ian Athfield. Athfield won an international competition in 1975 to design housing for 140,000 squatters in Manila, in the Philippines, yet struggled to gain recognition back home. This film culminates in Athfield's trip to the Philippines to pursue the project. Shooter John Toon later memorably shot feature film Rain.