Made for the Post Office, this 1971 National Film Unit documentary offers a potted history of New Zealand, using postage stamps as the frame. Director David Sims ranges from Māori rock drawings, to Tasman and Cook. Once Pākehā settlers arrive, the film offers a narrative of progress (aside from two world wars) leading to nationhood and industry. Archive photographs, paintings, Edwardian-era scenes and reenactments add to the subjects illustrated on the stamps. The stamps include New Zealand’s first: a full-face portrait of Queen Victoria by Alfred Edward Chalon.
Bliss is a portrait of the artist as a young woman. The award-winning telemovie follows Katherine Mansfield from boredom in Edwardian Wellington to liberation and love affairs in London, where she dares to dream of being a writer. Kate Elliott plays Mansfield as a spirited 19-year-old, hungry for experience. Bliss screened to acclaim in TV One's Sunday Theatre slot in August 2011. Listener reviewer Fiona Rae praised director Fiona Samuel's "excellent" script, and for allowing "her Mansfield to be witty, passionate and outspoken without belabouring the status of women in 1908".
In this two-part Lookout documentary from 1983, critic Hamish Keith explores how New Zealanders have housed themselves over the 20th Century. This first part builds to 1935: it begins in Auckland War Memorial Museum, with Keith asking how Kiwis would represent themselves if they were curators in the future. He presents the state house as the paramount Kiwi icon, and examines the journey from Victorian slums and Queen Street sewers to villas, bungalows and suburbia; plus the impact on housing of cars, consumerism, influenza, war, depression, and new ideas in town planning.
Like the digital ‘mash-up’ concept to come, this 1970 film uses content from more than one source to create something new. In this film collage, relics of visual and material culture from New Zealand museums are combined to evoke life in earlier eras. These objects — from moa skeletons, to scrimshaw, to a stereoscope, and surveys of Māori culture and sex appeal (!) — are mixed with historical footage (including turn of the century Queen Street) and a classical score. Another Time was directed by Arthur Everard for the National Film Unit.
This episode of the antiques appraisal series was recorded at Auckland Museum with host Dougal Stevenson, Marshall Seifert and Trevor Plumbly joined by Cherry Raymond, and Richard Valentine. Items examined include daguerreotypes, cubist pottery cats by Louis Wain, Edwardian Lavalier pendants and a Marconi radio. It also features a discussion about different types of valuation ... then there’s the piece of pottery, from Auckland artist Cameron Brown’s Titian studio (inspired by the 1956 Springbok Tour), which has the panel very much divided about its merits.
Directed by prolific music video maker turned movie director Jonathan King, this clip for pioneering hip hop duo Dam Native won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. It evokes the look of a sepia-tinged colonial era photo, and the art direction —Edwardian suits and tokotoko (walking stick) — are beautifully realised. The film was then deliberately scratched to help it look aged. The result makes an effective backdrop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere called the track “an original Aotearoa classic”.
Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.
Tracey Collins is a multi award-winning production and costume designer, who specialises in television and film work. Her career spans drama series (Maddigan's Quest), telemovies (Bliss) feature films (White Lies) and commercials, plus hundreds of original theatre works.