Seven decades after he began shooting films, Ted Coubray got his close-up in Mouth Wide Open. The documentary emerged shortly after his death in late 1997. It captured the hive of filmmaking activity that was 1920s Aotearoa — and Coubray's role as a pioneering cameraman, who even directed his own movie (horse racing hit Carbine's Heritage). The arrival of synchronised sound upped film budgets considerably; Coubray was one of the first in Australasia to create his own sound camera. In this opening sequence, he demonstrates one of his many camera-related inventions.
This black and white short film (with hardboiled voiceover) follows canine filmmaker Quinn Hud to the dog-eat-dog world of the Cannes Film Festival to sell his latest work. Director Jonathan Ogilvie honed his skills making music videos for Flying Nun bands; and he shot the Super 8 footage for this tale when his short Despondent Divorcee screened at Cannes 1995. Quinn Hud’s 18 second epic features as a film within a film — and the cavalcade of stars alone would warrant watching this witty Tropfest winner (also chosen for competition at Cannes and Telluride).
In this experimental drama shot in 1975, four young idealists escape the city for rural Foxton, and set about living off the land. But an act of violence sends the commune into isolation and extremism. Teasing tense drama from rural settings, the 90 minute tale from maverick National Film Unit director Paul Maunder shines a harsh light on the contradictions of the frontier spirit. Although state television funded it, they found it too edgy to screen; instead Landfall debuted at the 1977 Wellington Film Festival. The cast includes Sam Neill as a Vietnam vet, and Mark ll director John Anderson.
Fish Out of Water manages to unfurl its light-hearted tale of young man and the sea, without a word of dialogue. Avoiding the morning traffic jams, our man (Nick Dunbar) finds peace by rowing each day to work in the city. But when a seductive blonde unexpectedly enters the picture, he finds his morning boat ride heading in unexpected directions. Directed by Lala Rolls (Land of My Ancestors), Fish Out of Water was invited to play in the 2005 NZ Film Festival, plus another 10 overseas fests. Victoria Kelly composes the brass and banjo-inflected soundtrack.
Long ago a beloved NZ tourism advertisement revolved around a globe-trotting Kiwi who made the mistake of leaving town without seeing his country. This tourism-themed short is a variation on the theme. Veterans Kate Harcourt and Helen Moulder play speed-crazed neighbours, whose competitive spirit stretches to comparisons of the extent of their grandsons' travels. Directed by Australian Aya Tanimura, Sweet As nabbed the People's Choice award in Your Big Break, an international contest run by Tourism New Zealand to promote Aotearoa's scenery.
Reporter Paul Hobbs joins the Kiwis congregating at the Cannes Film Festival for this 2004 One Network News report. Hobbs is on the French Riviera to hear about two of the most expensive New Zealand stories yet to win funding: historical drama River Queen and vampire tale Perfect Creature. Hobbs hints at budgets north of $20 million. Among the Kiwis talking things up are NZ Film Commission Chief Executive Ruth Harley, River Queen investor Eric Watson, and director Roger Donaldson. Cliff Curtis pops by, and Fat Freddy's Drop lay down some party tunes.
This 1986 Kaleidoscope excerpt visits the world’s premier film festival. Reporter and future Once Were Warriors producer Robin Scholes begins with the official competition – where two years before Vigil vied for the top prize, the Palme d’Or – then focuses on Kiwi films being promoted in the marketplace. She interviews the NZ Film Commission's Lindsay Shelton (selling Arriving Tuesday); Dorothee Pinfold (Dangerous Orphans), asks producer Larry Parr (Bridge to Nowhere) if Kiwi films can survive without tax breaks, and chats to Challenge Films' Henry Fownes and Paul Davis.
Man. Woman. Motorcycle. Beach. Road. This short film makes clear that Rodney Charters had a certain way with images, long before he got busy shooting television (24, Roswell) in the USA. Charters directed Film Exercise while he was an arts student in Auckland in the 1960s. It helped him win a place at London's Royal College of Art. Favouring music and unusual angles over dialogue, the film celebrates the joys of being young and on the move, while capturing scenes of Auckland nightlife including a Mt Eden party. The La De Da's supply the custom-built soundtrack.
German-born Kiwi director Florian Habicht charts the journey of Britpop band Pulp to their 2012 Sheffield farewell concert. As well as singing along with the common people, and interviews with Jarvis Cocker and band (musing on everything from ageing to fishmongering), Habicht reunites with his Love Story co-writer and cinematographer to pay tribute to the band’s hometown and fans (including a rest home rendition of ‘Help the Aged’). The film premiered to strong reviews at US festival South by Southwest, where Variety found it “warmly human” and “artfully witty”.
According to One Network News newsreader Tom Bradley, “New Zealand’s best hope for a prize” at Cannes in 1995 is Sam Neill and Judy Rymer's documentary Cinema of Unease. Neill’s personal history of Kiwi movies made its debut in the festival’s official competition. Mark Sainsbury reports from Cannes (where the awards haven’t yet been announced, but the film has won rave reviews) and interviews Neill – who reckons Kiwi film has come of age, but needs government support. He also meets Gaylene Preston, who talks sex during wartime, while promoting her documentary War Stories.