Asia Dynamic - Henna on My Hands

Television, 1997 (Full Length)

Presented by future National Party MP Melissa Lee, this Asia Dynamic episode tells the story (discovered by reporter Bharat Jamnadas) of Nalini Chhima, an Auckland-born Indian woman and accomplished classical dancer, who travels to Navsari, India, to prepare for a traditional marriage. Like her parents, Chhima thinks an arranged marriage has a better chance of surviving than a love marriage. This documentary tracks Chhima’s emotional journey, and her desire to please her parents and be true to her culture. Asia Dynamic was later re-named Asia Downunder.

Mesmerized

Film, 1984 (Excerpts)

A young woman in colonial New Zealand (played by Jodie Foster, post-Taxi Driver pre-Oscars) flees an orphanage to find herself trapped in an arranged marriage to an older businessman (fellow US actor John Lithgow). Voyeurism, hypnotism and dodgy doctoring feature in the thriller from US director Michael Laughlin, from a screenplay by Jerzy Skolimowski. Mesmerized was made in NZ as an international co-production with RKO during the 80s tax break era. It was released in the US as My Letter to George in 1986. Laughlin also shot cult horror Dead Kids (1981) in NZ.

Te Po Uriuri (The Enveloping Night)

Short Film, 2001 (Full Length)

Awatea, a young warrior, is enraged when his lover Te Po, a high-born chief's daughter, enters an arranged marriage. Retribution is swift and brutal. Set in the late 16th century and based on a Shakespeare sonnet ("my love is as a fever, longing still"), the storytelling of Te Po Uriuri is visceral, and suitably mythic in style. Ruru hoot, bloody patu gleam, and bodies and the oily black of the night are vividly shot by Waka Attewell. Directed by Toby Mills and filmed in te reo, it was selected for the Hamburg International Film Festival.

Utu Pihikete

Short Film, 2013 (Full Length)

A colonial widow, recently arrived in New Zealand from England, answers an advertisement from a stoic settler for a wife. They agree to an arrangement. Later Mrs Brown forms an attachment to their Māori servant girl Atawhai, and slowly learns the secret behind her presence. Written by playwright April Phillips (who also plays Mrs Brown) this short film was directed by Christchurch theatre director Craig Hutchison. It was filmed at Wellington's Nairn Street Cottage. ‘Utu Pihikete’ was a derogatory term for half-caste children meaning “paid for in biscuits”.

Mediarena

Television, 2004 (Full Length)

Mediarena was an exhibition of contemporary art from Japan on show in New Plymouth in 2004. Held at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, it showcased 17 artists and a video installation. Hosts Serena Bentley and Yuri Kinugawa travel to Taranaki for the Artsville series and find out how artists are transforming and subverting traditional images and ideas and bringing them into a contemporary form. Themes include female subservience in Japanese society, celebrity culture, the commuter experience, genetic modification and ecological sustainability.

The Factory - Series

Web, 2013 (Full Length Episodes)

In this music-heavy web series, a South Auckland family competes in a local talent quest. Alongside battles over  performing the traditional Samoan music favoured by their grandfather, the Saumalus have to deal with a dodgy competitor and some last minute changes of tune. There's also romance, heartbreak, and a shifty Palagi factory boss. The final episode (of 20) features behind the scenes bloopers. Directed by music video veteran Joe Lonie, The Factory began as a highly successful stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew.

Open Door - Shakti

Television, 2011 (Full Length Episode)

Open Door is a community-based TV series where groups or individuals make a documentary about an issue that concerns them. This episode is about Shakti - a support organisation for women from ethnic communities who are in crisis because of domestic violence. Shakti offers immigrant women in violent relationships a safe haven and a helping hand to make a fresh start. Shakti NZ founder Farida Sultana says it is so culturally difficult for some of the women to leave their marriages they can get to the point of being in fear for their lives.

Face Value - House Rules

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

Written by Fiona Samuel and produced by Ginette McDonald, Face Value is a series of monologues by three women with very different stories to tell, but who share a quest for inner happiness. In House Rules, the inimitable Davina Whitehouse gives a poignant performance as Miss Judd, a housekeeper of 22 years who is forced to reassess her life and situation after her employer’s death. Propriety at all costs is the rule of the day. House Rules is another example of Samuel’s ability to create memorable and subtly complex female characters.

Ghost Bride

Film, 2013 (Trailer)

Director David Blyth — the man behind Death Warmed Up, New Zealand’s first horror movie — enters the supernatural with his sixth dramatic feature. Newcomer Yoson An plays a Chinese immigrant whose mother has no idea that he has a Kiwi girlfriend. Insistent on an arranged marriage, she takes him to matchmaker Madam Yin (Geeling Ng), whose idea of the perfect bride sees Jason caught up in the ancient Chinese practise of minghūn: a spirit marriage. After premiering at Auckland's 2013 Asia Pacific Film Festival, Ghost Bride was seen extensively across Asia. 

The Piano

Film, 1993 (Trailer and Excerpts)

Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.