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.
Actor Bruno Lawrence rounds out a handful (Buck, Billy T, The Topps, Crumpy) of Kiwi icons who have achieved sufficient mana to be recognised by an abbreviated name. His charisma was key to ground-breaking films, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Jack Nicholson reputedly had Bruno envy. This collection celebrates his inimitable performances and life.
Actor, writer and director Fiona Samuel explores the loss of virginity in her first documentary. Seven women — aged from 19 to 89 — talk frankly about their 'first time' and how it affected their lives. For some, it was a rite of passage for better or worse, but for others there have been life changing consequences. Expressive recreations provide texture for stories that are compelling but never voyeuristic. In a rare example of a conjugal screen one-two, Murray Keane, Samuel’s husband, explored the same topic with seven men for a companion piece in 2002.
This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.
This 1976 TV2 report covers the launch of Gordon McLauchlan’s book Passionless People in Eketahuna, a town he had derided in newspaper columns as an epicentre of New Zealand conformity. Within the book’s pages the author infamously called Kiwis "smiling zombies" – lazy, smug, and a bunch of moaners. McLauchlan bravely visits the local pub, and stands in front of the 'hot pies' sign to muse about sexuality. Ex-All Black Brian Lochore is MC at the launch, where McLauchlan is put on mock trial in stocks at the town hall. Passionless People was a runaway best seller.
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.
Director Murray Keane was inspired to make this documentary after his wife Fiona Samuel focussed exclusively on women for her earlier doco about the loss of virginity and its effect on lives. The companion film features seven men aged from 20 to 80 talking candidly about their different experiences of 'the first time'. Keane illustrates these very personal stories with quirky, colourful visuals as his participants muse on an event that few were really prepared for and which was transcendent for some, confusing for others and a nightmare of abuse for one of them.
Presented by Jayne Kiely, this series catches up with couples from earlier reality series Weddings (1999), to see what married life has delivered. This episode revisits Barbara and Stu, who decided he wanted to cross-dress for the wedding; Christian couple Michael and Fiona, who believed in abstinence until marriage; and Chris and Jackie (whose mother was terminally ill). Affairs, death, the weight of reality TV stardom and nightclub ownership all provide challenges to true love. The original Weddings series (also presented by Kiely) followed couples on their journey to the altar.
Expressions of Sexuality examined the impact of the sexual revolution on New Zealand society in the late 1980s. In this episode, the trade-offs between married and single life (and the areas in between) are recounted through candid interviews with seven 'unattached' men and women, including a solo mother of five children and a celibate Catholic priest. Filmed in 1984, it took director Allison Webber two years to convince TVNZ that local audiences were 'ready' for what were still seen as taboo subjects.
A special episode which asks ten queer people from all over New Zealand about issues affecting their lives. Subjects include health, looking at HIV and safe sex; issues around homophobia, especially focusing on opposition to the Civil Union Bill (passed after this programme was made); the importance of family and relationships; bringing up children within gay relationships; and attitudes to gay marriage (or civil unions). It winds up with comments on how much more tolerant New Zealand society has become since homosexual law reform, in 1986.