Zoo Babies - Raising Baby Iwani was a spin-off from long-running Greenstone series The Zoo. Capitalising on the cute charisma of baby animals, it highlights the inherent dramas of animal breeding programmes at zoos. Filmed at Auckland Zoo, this documentary follows the story of surviving twin Baby Iwani, a Siamang gibbon, whose mother rejected him at six weeks of age. Senior primate keeper Christine Tintinger takes on the role of surrogate Mum, hand-raising Iwani for a year before giving him back to his mother. The documentary originally screened in two parts.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
This 'making of' film goes behind the scenes of the music video for Smashproof's hit song Brother. Chris Graham's promo won Best Music Video at the 2009 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. The 10 minute film includes interviews with Smashproof, talking about the consciousness-raising song (a "metaphor for South Auckland"). Meanwhile director Chris Graham discusses the concept of cruising the streets in an invisible car — the idea "came from Sid's opening lyric: 'I've got my hand on the windowsill looking out at the world'..." — and how it was executed.
Producer Larry Parr has had a hand in producing a number of classic New Zealand films, including Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. He has also made forays into directing with Fracture and A Soldier's Tale. After three years as Head of Programming at Māori Television, Parr became Television Manager at Te Māngai Pāho, which funds Māori radio and TV programmes.
“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.
In director Geoff Murphy's cult sci fi feature, a global energy project has malfunctioned and scientist Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) awakes to find himself the only living being left on earth. At first he lives out his fantasies, helping himself to cars and clothes, before the implications of being 'man alone' sink in. As this awareness sends him to the brink of madness — see the excerpt above — he discovers two other survivors. One of them is a woman. The Los Angeles Daily News called the movie “quite simply the best science-fiction film of the 80s”. Read more about it here.
Aaron Watson's career path has been anything but dull. He's acted in children's television programmes (eg InFocus and Oi), performed at the 1996 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his friend Duncan Sarkies, and spent 14 years as a tour guide in Russia and Central Europe. Dunedin-raised, Watson turned to producing in 2011, working with friend Jackie van Beek on short films In Safe Hands (a 2012 NZ Film Award winner) and Go the Dogs (2012 Berlin Film Festival). In 2017 the pair released their first feature film The Inland Road. Watson has gone on to produce feature comedy This Town, from Wellington filmmaker David White.
Born in Greece and raised in Adelaide, Athina Tsoulis began making films after she moved to Auckland in the 1980s. Black comedy The Invisible Hand was invited to multiple festivals, including Clermont-Ferrand. Long keen to tell women's stories, Tsoulis made her feature film debut in 1998 with edgy comedy I'll Make You Happy. Her follow-up, small town drama Jinx Sister, starring Sara Wiseman, was Qantas-nominated for the Best Low-Budget Feature of 2008. Third feature Stars in Her Eyes (2016) involved both screen industry veterans, and students from Unitec — where Tsoulis has for a number of years taught directing.
Veteran animator Euan Frizzell brought his artist's hands to almost every form of the genre, from traditional cartoons to stop motion to computer generated animation. Along the way, he animated stories by local legends Margaret Mahy and Lynley Dodd, and directed and animated for Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and Fred Flintstone. Frizzell died on 23 September 2012.
In Scarfies, five Dunedin students find themselves in a free squat, and a dark place, after taking a criminal captive in their basement. The debut feature from Robert Sarkies starts as a comic tribute to Otago student days, then turns into a psychological thriller. Outside of the two Warriors movies, Scarfies was the most successful Kiwi release of the 90s on home turf. It went on to scoop best film, director and screenplay awards at the 2000 NZ Film and TV Awards. This excerpt sees the scarfies torn between dealing with the crim and a footy match at Carisbrook.