Billy Graham was a a poor, restless, dyslexic boy from Lower Hutt who was taken under the wing of a boxing coach and became an amateur champion. In 2006 Graham set up his first boxing academy in his home suburb. Now he runs five gyms, training young people to have pride in themselves and their bodies. This 42-minute documentary was directed by award-winner Mark Albiston (The Six Dollar Fifty Man). It follows a group of young Kiwis who have found acceptance and inspiration on the floor at Graham's gym. Billy and the Kids debuted at the 2019 NZ International Film Festival.
Directed by Annie Goldson (Brother Number One), this 1995 TV documentary explores the story of Cecil Holmes, who won Cold War notoriety in 1948 when he was smeared as a communist agent, while working as a director for the National Film Unit. This excerpt — the opening 10 minutes — revisits the infamous snatching of Holmes' satchel outside Parliament, his Palmerston North upbringing, war service, and the founding of the Government's National Film Unit. There are excerpts from a 1980 interview where Holmes describes his inspirations (including UK film Night Mail).
Taro planter Lui’s grief for his dead wife is blighting his life and crops. A widow, Malia, is bound by anger to the grave of her abusive husband, as the rising sea slowly drowns it. When Lui and Malia meet by chance, he’s provided with a path from his hurt. Filmed in Samoan on the island of Upolu, and directed by Samoan-born Tusi Tamasese, the short is a fable-like meditation on communion, cooking and sacred places. It was selected for the Clermont-Ferrand and Hawaii film festivals, and was the precursor to Tamasese’s Venice-selected debut feature, The Orator.
The Italian Job meets cheap jugs and a student union gig in this early heist tale from Geoff Murphy (Goodbye Pork Pie). The plot follows some university students — short on exam fees and beer money — and their scheme to crack a campus safe. Murphy enlisted $4000 and a bevy of mates (including Bruno Lawrence in one of his earliest screen roles), and made it over nine months of weekends. It sold to local television (as well as the ABC in Australia). Its deliberately low key, naturalistic acting stood in stark contrast to the stage-influenced television dramas of the time.
The title provides pointers towards the film noir intentions of this stylish short film. A well-travelled set-up — drifter rolls into a seedy motel diner — springs surprises as the time -travel plot unravels. Jet Black features Leighton Cardno (Shortland Street's Dr Adam Heyward) as Jet, burdened by murderous guilt, and fellow Shortlander Marissa Stott as the winsome waitress. The screenplay was written by director Kezia Barnett, novelist Chad Taylor (Heaven) and adman Karl Fleet. It was part of a series of shorts promoting Schweppes, by advertising agency Publicis Mojo.
Matthew Sunderland (Out of the Blue) plays the sole survivor of an unexplained cataclysmic event. Roaming bloody and dazed amongst a polar landscape — pocked with beached container ships — he experiences a moment of sky-splitting Ballardian beauty. A rare sci-fi Kiwi short film, Vostok Station was directed by Dylan Pharazyn, and filmed on Mt Ruapehu, with convincingly-rendered effects added in post-production. The film was selected for Sundance (where it was nominated for a ‘New Frontier’ award), Valladolid (Spain) and onedotzero (London) film festivals.
Wild Man is the missing link between 1970s musical legends Blerta, and the burgeoning of Blerta trumpeter Geoff Murphy as a director whose talents knew few bounds. The Blerta ensemble relocated to the mud-soaked West Coast to create this tale of pioneer con men and silent movie style pratfalls. Bruno Lawrence and Ian Watkin arrange a fight — and betting — in each town they arrive in, while Bruno channels his inner wild man from under a leopard skin. Wild Man was released in cinemas alongside John Clarke and Geoff Murphy’s Fred Dagg comedy Dagg Day Afternoon.
K' Rd Stories was a 2015 series of shorts celebrating one of Auckland’s most colourful strips. In this entry, Dan and Dwayne are “two lovable hustlers with an entrepreneurial spirit trying to scratch a living on the fringes of K Road”. $cratch documents the pair’s efforts to gain entry to the Las Vegas strip club, set up a pop-up tinny shop, and find a girlfriend (“a lot of girlfriends I had in the past gave me nothing but children!”). Dwayne is played by Dwayne Sisson, who co-starred with $cratch director Clint Rarm in Zoe McIntosh’s 2013 rogue-life tale The Deadly Ponies Gang.
In the final episode of the season, larrikin presenters Bill and Ben pretend to offend rugby league stars Monty Betham and Awen Guttenbeil (with a nod to American Beauty). The show's closing references the controversial finale of The Sopranos (complete with mocking soundtrack), and there are cameos from Karl Urban and Temuera Morrison. Ben revels in extended torture of Bill, while Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam concentrates on golfing. Elsewhere a shop dummy does some begging, and a unique interpretation of cross-training enrages a passing screen producer.
The work of Dunedin artist and surfer Simon Kaan explores his Māori (Ngāi Tahu), Pākehā (Scottish) and Chinese heritage. His studio in Port Chalmers is an old fruit shop his Chinese grandfather ran. In 2004 Simon won a three-month residency at Beijing’s Red Gate Gallery. Directed by Andrew Bancroft, this Artsville story follows Kaan on a tour of Beijing markets and galleries, as he prepares for a show opening. Kaan, who also narrates the piece, is able to visit family whenua: the village that his grandparents left behind for New Zealand.