This motors and mullets documentary focuses on a group who are obsessed by stock car racing. Shot by Stuart Dryburgh (Once Were Warriors) and Richard Scott, it follows a group of drivers and their crews and families, as they ready for Saturday night racing at Onehunga's Waikaraka Park Speedway. Hours are spent preparing and repairing the one-and-a-half tonne cars, which travel at up to 112 kilometres an hour in one of the few full contact motor sports. Passion, ego and cunning fuel the drama. Injuries and personal sacrifices are the price for the part-time petrol heads.
Brooke Clarkson races stock cars — a rare female in a male-dominated motorsport. After growing up watching her dad and uncle race, taking to the track herself seemed only natural. In this short documentary, Clarkson and her family are interviewed about the challenges she’s faced to get to the top, from her mother’s concerns, to outsiders arguing that girls shouldn’t be racing — they'll just get hurt. Now, at only 18 years old, she is racing one of the top stock cars in the country. The soundtrack includes ‘She Speeds’ — the classic track from Dunedin band Straitjacket Fits.
This Country Calendar episode profiles Billy Riddell, one of the few remaining drovers who was still moving herds the old fashioned way in the mid 1970s: “on the hoof” (the art of droving was being supplanted by rail and livestock trucks). The episode accompanies Riddell on a ‘drive’, as he moves a herd of cattle along the East Coast. Riddell’s narration recalls stampedes, river crossings, losing dogs and stock out to sea, the joys of butter, and why townies shouldn’t be on the roads: “the roads were there before cars were even blimmin' thought of”. He also reflects on a drover’s life.
“When old and young come together to do this, it shows the strength of their convictions.” This film is a detailed chronicle of a key moment in the Māori renaissance: the 1975 land march led by then 79-year-old Whina Cooper. A coalition of Māori groups set out from the far north for Wellington, opposed to further loss of their land. This early Geoff Steven documentary includes interviews with many on the march, including Eva Rickard, Tama Poata and Whina Cooper. There is stirring evidence of Cooper’s oratory skills. Steven writes about making the film in the backgrounder.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.