On an evening stroll in 1996, two elderly Paekakariki twins suddenly encountered a ropey bull. Caught in an unexpected predicament, they tried patting it, praying, and holding onto its horns for dear life. Using an audio recording in which Pearl Mills matter-of-factly retells the experience, the Simmonds Brothers utilise colourful animation to bring the whole homely tale to life. Following on from their first film — based on interviews with people from Paekakariki township — this ‘documation’ short was again inspired by the stories of ‘ordinary’ people.
This 1994 ‘home front noir’ is set in World War II Wellington, where the plots — a murdered marine, exploited working girls and gonorrhea — spread amidst the invasion of US soldiers stationed at Paekakariki. Kerry Fox (An Angel at My Table) is a public health nurse who becomes romantically linked with the US investigating officer (Tony Goldwyn — Ghost, TV's Scandal) while pursuing the STDs and the truth. They’re supported by Oscar-winning US veterans Rod Steiger and Robert Loggia. John Reid (Middle Age Spread) directs, from a Keith Aberdein script.
“A film developed from the imagination of New Zealand children” is how director Tony Williams describes this remarkable, sprawling mix of drama and documentary. It features a fictitious teacher (writer Michael Heath) working with a class of 11-year-olds from Petone to explore what freedom means to them. At times their notions might seem naive but the film remains firmly non-judgmental. The free-wheeling approach, most memorable in the Paekakariki beach fantasy scenes, makes for a “wonderfully idiosyncratic” (film historian Roger Horrocks) hymn to juvenile freedom.
This is the final episode of the pioneering Kiwi soap. TV One’s Hearte family saga achieved enormous popularity during its eight year run, and provided a training ground for a generation of screen talent. But by 1982 Close to Home’s characters were aging or departed, and the show faced competition from American youth-focused fare (eg Fame, The Six Million Dollar Man). With this 818th episode it was time for moving house, nostalgic re-caps, for The Seekers’ ‘Carnival is Over’ to score the opening credits, and for Tom (John Bach) to stub out his last ciggie and write the ending.
Wellington rockers Paselode certainly weren’t the first band to conquer, argue, then combust; but this film offers an unusual view on the group’s internal dynamics. Inspired by the legendary Creature Comforts films by Aardman Animation, The Paselode Story takes real-life interviews with bandmembers, and animates the results. Expect possibly tongue-in-cheek revelations of how singer Gerome Mills charmed — or bribed — his way into his brother’s band with his Dad’s help, before revealing his true colours. There are also live action scenes of Paselode in action.
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.
Shopping marks the feature debut of Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland, who were acclaimed for their short films. Set on the Kapiti Coast, the 80s-set drama follows half-Samoan teenager Willie (Kevin Paulo), who is seduced into a world of petty crime. Adrift in muscle cars and boozy lawn parties, he finds stirrings of love, and escape from his volatile Pākehā father. Little brother Solomon (Julian Dennison) must fend for himself. Selected for the Berlin and Sundance Film Festivals, Shopping went on a winning spree at the 2013 NZ Film Awards (including Best Film and Screenplay).
At any one time between mid 1942 and mid 1944, between 15,000 and 45,000 US servicemen were camped in NZ preparing for, and recovering from, war in the Pacific. The marines brought colour and drama to the austerity of home front life. Fifty years later this TV documentary used interviews, reenactments and archive material to explore the “American invasion”. Sonja Davies recalls a Wellington street fight kicked off by a racist insult directed at Māori, and her wartime pregnancy and romance (1,500 marriages ensued from “when the Americans were here”).
This documentary tells the stories of the New Zealand soldiers who were part of the identity-defining Gallipoli campaign in World War I. In the ill-fated mission to take a piece of Turkish coastline, 2721 New Zealanders died with 4752 wounded. As part of research, every one of the then-surviving Gallipoli veterans living in New Zealand was interviewed, with 26 finally filmed. Shot at a barren, rocky Gallipoli before the advent of Anzac Day tourism, this important record screened on Easter Sunday 1984, and won a Feltex Award for Best Documentary.
After a job in a honey factory and travels in India, Linda McLaughlan fell into a job as a production manager on series The Big OE, produced by Michelle Fantl. The gig begat a long collaboration with Fantl and director Stewart Main, from a documentary on young offenders (Make or Break) to 2005 movie 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous. Credits from McLaughlan's own extended OE include 2012 BBC2 documentary Family Guys? What Sitcoms Say about America Now. Paekakariki-based McLaughlan has also produced short films (The Freezer) and written fiction. She was formerly known by her maiden name, Linda Keown.