This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure."
From the duo (Matt Heath and Chris Strapp) behind bad taste TV series Back of the Y, this feature follows Randy Cambell's rocket car driven mission to be "NZ’s greatest living stuntman". Gross and petrol-fuelled palaver ensues en route to a date with speedway destiny, as Cambell romances a one-legged female Evil Knievel, and fights a not-so-death defying family curse. Scott Weinberg (Cinematical) praised this low budget "cross between The Road Warrior, Mad Magazine and Jackass" as "loud, raucous and adorably stupid" when it premiered at US fest SXSW 2007.
This collection celebrates all things equine on New Zealand screens. Since the early days of the colony, horses have been everything from nation builders (Cobb & Co) to national heroes (Phar Lap, Charisma) to companions (Black Beauty) to heartland icons. Whether work horse, war horse, wild horse, or show pony, horses have become a key part of this (Kiwi) way of life.
This much praised documentary revisits the subject of a film Vincent Ward made in 1978, aged 21. That film, In Spring One Plants Alone, told the story of 80-year-old Puhi, who lived with her schizophrenic son in the isolated Urewera. The follow-up — part detective documentary, part historical reenactment — focuses on Puhi's life. She married the son of Māori prophet Rua Kenana, had 14 children, and after a run of tragedies, believed herself to be cursed. This excerpt goes “way out there in the bush” to the Maungapohatu community where Rua “made the city of God on Earth”.
The Haunting of Barney Palmer is a fantasy film for children about a young boy who is haunted by his great uncle. Young Barney fears that he has inherited the Scholar family curse; a suite of 80s-era effects ramp up the supernatural suspense. The film was a co-production between PBS (United States) and Wellington's Gibson Group, which resulted in Ned Beatty (Deliverance, Network) being cast. It was written by Margaret Mahy, based on her Carnegie Award-winning novel The Haunting, and an early fruitful collaboration between her and director Yvonne Mackay.
Award-winning documentary maker Peta Carey has framed subjects from a Kiwi buddha to Fiordland waterfalls, Pacific atolls to paragliders. She cut her teeth as a presenter on kids show Spot On, then began directing current affairs. Genetic research examination Lifting of the Makutu won her a 2006 NZ Screen Award. Carey runs Watershed Films, and has written feature stories for North & South and The Listener.
Writer, producer and actor Paul Yates is a comedic "everyman". His CV includes sketch shows Facelift and Telly Laughs, pre-teen series Freaky and The Killian Curse, and teen sitcom Girl vs Boy. He’s written for popular sitcoms Willy Nilly and Sunny Skies, and is producer and co-writer for Wellington Paranormal, the successful What We Do in the Shadows spin-off.
Christine Jeffs made her name as one of New Zealand's foremost commercial directors. After winning attention with no dialogue short Stroke (1994), she made her feature film debut with coming of age tale Rain, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight in 2001. Jeffs went on to direct Sylvia, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow as poet Sylvia Plath, and American indie title Sunshine Cleaning.
Jeremy Dillon began as an actor, did time as a children's show host and found his true calling as the creator of the friendly monsters seen on shows like The Moe Show and Pop-Up. In 2010 he set up production company Pop-Up Workshop, with friend Zane Holmes.
Danielle Mason graduated from drama school Toi Whakaari in 2002. Two years later she won Chapman Tripp theatre awards for Best Female Newcomer and Outstanding Performance, and starred in low budget movie Futile Attraction, a satire of reality TV shows. In 2006, Mason featured in horror comedy Black Sheep. This time she played Experience, an animal rights activist fighting off a farm full of mutant sheep. Mason went on to play the reluctant object of an ageing DJ's affections in web series High Road. In family drama Wilde Ride, she is a dirt bike enthusiast looking after her sister's daughter following a tragedy.