If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. The 'Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' included foundation members of the NZ screen industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger) plus other merry pranksters. Drawing on the Blerta TV series and beyond, Blerta Revisited (aka Blerta - The Return Trip) is an anarchic collection of comedy skits, musical interludes and films culled from the Blerta archives. Costa Botes writes about Blerta here.
Before the Blerta bus and Goodbye Pork Pie's yellow mini hit the road, some friends with more energy than cash dressed up as mad doctors and criminals, and began making films. This freeform short about running late is an early product of varied schemers who were key in the Kiwi film renaissance. Geoff Murphy plays the man in a hurry, and Bruno Lawrence is Dr Brunowski. Originally screened with live music, here it’s jazzed up with new opening credits and a 2012 soundtrack, led by Murphy on vocals. The result is an unbottling of youthful filmmaking pep. Warning: final credits not to be trusted.
Numero Bruno is a warts and all biography of widely popular actor, musician and counter-cultural hero Bruno Lawrence. Lawrence's intense, charismatic screen presence was key to ground-breaking Kiwi films, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Directed by Steve La Hood (the veteran director’s TV swansong), this documentary features interviews with family and friends, and liberal excerpts from Lawrence's film and musical work, including performances by 70s alternative Aotearoa icons Blerta and clips showcasing his seminal collaborations with Geoff Murphy.
One of the most influential cars of the 20th century, the compact Mini attained Kiwi icon status in 1981 after it starred in movie Goodbye Pork Pie. In these clips from the 1980s Kiwi automobile series, reporter Islay McLeod (then Islay Benge) interviews Pork Pie stunt driver Peter Zivkovic about his "fun" experience; motor racing legend Chris Amon takes a Mini for a spin around Manawatu's Manfield race track; and ex newsreader Dougal Stevenson talks to a mechanic about the pitfalls of the Mini, including a tendency to rust and slip out of gear.
Directed by Tony Williams, this documentary is a strong example of how to make engaging television out of a brief that might easily have been overly earnest. Nominally “a history of service clubs in New Zealand”, the footloose film explores a rich variety of organisations created to bring people together: from accordion players and air hostesses to flying saucer believers and Rotarians. The film celebrates a fundamental human need to ‘get together’. Poet Denis Glover provides sardonic commentary. It won the best programme of year Feltex Award.
The Mockers had a breakthrough year in 1984. Their sixth single 'Swear It's True' caught New Zealand's attention, and in May their debut album peaked at number four on the Kiwi charts. In June they played Mainstreet for one of 1984's batch of Radio with Pictures specials, spawning the live album Caught in the Act, which was released in July. Vocalist and part-time poet Andrew Fagan cuts a piratical figure in his sailor's jacket and trademark fingerless gloves. Dunedin band The Idles were a lesser known proposition. They made ripples in 1984 with their first EP, 'Agroculture'.
In this Koha story, reporter Temuera Morrison arrives on the East Coast to watch the making of Mauri, the first dramatic feature directed solo by a Māori woman. Writer/director Merata Mita argues that the 50s set drama is "about birth and death, and all that takes place between", and talks about how the film is important in giving Māori filmmaking experience, and a voice on screen. Actors Zac Wallace (Utu) and Eva Rickard are interviewed, while locals talk about the challenges of making movies. There are also glimpses of some of the Ralph Hotere-designed sets.
Merata Mita argued forcefully that the voices of Māori and of women were sorely lacking on-screen. Best known for her Springbok tour documentary Patu!, the straight-talking director and actor later set up an indigenous filmmaking programme in Hawai'i, and spoke about indigenous film around the globe. After Mita passed away in 2010, her youngest son Hepi began making a film about her — discovering new sides to his mother as he trawled through footage, and interviewed his older siblings. The feature-length documentary debuted at the 2018 NZ International Film Festival.
Barefoot Cinema looks at the "art and life" of Alun Bollinger, whom Peter Jackson calls "the finest lighting cameraman that the country has ever produced." Goodbye Pork Pie, Vigil, Heavenly Creatures ... the path of the man known as 'AlBol' is like a screen industry growth chart. But the film is as much an affectionate account of the values and family of a "greenie good keen man", shaped around his four decades-long relationship with wife Helen. In this excerpt, 'AlBol' nails down iron in the rain at his West Coast home, and he and Peter Jackson reflect on their collaborations.
This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.