This classic ad was made on a shoestring budget: milk bottle silver caps stood in for soldier’s dog tags and a Wellington quarry apes a Korean War-zone of the evergreen MASH TV series (from the naming of “O’Reilly” at the top of the mail call through to the 1953 country and western tearjerker used in the soundtrack, sung by Jacqui Fitzgerald and adapted by Murray Grindlay). The anachronism of cassette tapes in Korea proved a charming twist on the traditional ‘Dear John’ letter; and the ad was later voted Best Australasian commercial of the 80s.
An old woman (Olive Bracey) recounts to her nephew (actor Martyn Sanderson) memories of her life in Hokianga. The film is a mix of personal return journey for Sanderson and an affectionate record of his spirited aunt (she's "the one who ate wheatgerm" in the family). Autumn Fires mixes conversations, photos, and dramatisations of romantic letters. Sanderson rambles on the farm, picks mussels in bull kelp sandals, muses on industrial agriculture and on the "unambitious peaceful life". Directed by Barry Barclay, the elegiac film screened in TV1's Scene series.
Love Story sees director Florian Habicht finding a movie, a plot, and a beautiful Ukranian on the streets of New York. The offbeat romance is part love letter to New York City, part the story of Florian and Mash... and possibly part true. The script to this genre-bending tryst is written before our eyes, via story ideas from real life New Yorkers. Love Story won Aotearoa awards for Best Film and Director, and raves from Variety and the NZ Herald’s Peter Calder — who described Auckland Film Festival audiences gasping at the "strange, surprising and wildly romantic ideas sprinkled through it".
Director Julie Zhu's love letter to a Chinese East Auckland community follows her grandmother as she carries out what may seem a mundane task — grocery shopping. But to Fang Ruzhen, her daily ritual of buying food is what connects her to several other aged Chinese grandparents, who hop on buses in large groups to head to the supermarket. Ruzhen moved to New Zealand nearly 20 years ago to help look after her grandson. Now she is 79 and can barely speak any English. "Going shopping every day…well, that’s our strength. Without this, what would we do?"
Host Marcus Lush called this 2009 series a "love letter" to the characters and stories of the south. In this first episode he sleeps over on Dog Island (where he learns a lighthouse doesn’t have curved beds). Then it’s down to Stewart Island to join "Robin’s teepee cult" and meet Mason Bay whānau, and back to the Aucklander's adopted hometown of Bluff to chat with artistic beachcombers. South continued JAM TV’s winning collaboration with Lush (Off the Rails, ICE). At the 2010 Qantas Awards, the series collected gongs for best presenter and for director Melanie Rakena.
Claire Duncan’s “love-letter to music on the margins” punctures the romantic view of the touring musician (with withering narration playing over images of rural backwaters) while simultaneously affirming the virtues of self-expression, and the special transience of live performance. Featured are interviews and arresting performances from some of NZ’s most singular new artists: Seth Frightening, i.e. crazy (the director’s musical alias) and Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing. This was one of three films produced by Lumière, advocating for local artists working outside the mainstream.
Short film The Road to Whakarae is built around a special place, and a special song. Keen to celebrate home and the joyful aspects of the Tūhoe people, local filmmaker/artist Tim Worrall and cousin Aaron Smart (whose wife is from the area) crafted a love letter to the Waimana Valley, by expanding an old Tūhoe party song about “a windy, dusty road” and inviting various locals to sing a section each. Made for online viewing as part of the Loading Docs series, the film starts with local musician and kaumātua Beam Titoko on guitar — and ends with a kiss at the marae.
Featuring cameos from numerous softball legends (including the late Kevin Herlihy), Strike Zone is a love-letter to the game from director and NZ under-16 pitcher Cameron Duncan. Duncan stars as a dying coach trying to motivate his team to win a key game. The messages of teamwork and not giving up are made more poignant by the many real-life parallels: during filming torrential rain turned the diamond into a quagmire, and Strike Zone's teen director, himself stricken by cancer, almost died on set, before going on to compere the film's premiere.
Nanna Maria (Ruby Dee), the matriarch of a Fijian family in Auckland, feels that the heart has gone out of her clan. She demands that her grown grandchildren put on a traditional feast, at which she will name her successor. The grandchildren reluctantly turn up, but tiffs spin things into chaos and she calls the whole thing off. Based on his second play, this love letter to the suburb of Mt Roskill marked the first film for director Toa Fraser (Dean Spanley). It screened at many festivals internationally, and won the 2006 World Cinema audience award at American festival Sundance.
Presented by broadcasting legend Selwyn Toogood, this panel show screened on weekday afternoons from 1976 to 1985. Toogood and four female panellists answered viewers' letters, and took on "every problem, be it incest, love or tatting", as panelist Liz Grant says in a poetry reading. This 1982 Christmas Day special drops the advice to concentrate on entertainment from a super team of 12 panelists, including regulars Shona McFarlane, Heather Eggleton, and Catherine Saunders. Johnny Frisbie attempts to teach Toogood a hula, and Toogood sings Yes! We Have No Bananas.