Team Tibet tells the story of Thuten Kesang, who came to New Zealand in 1967, exiled from his Tibetan homeland, his family and his culture. Kesang was Aotearoa’s first Tibetan refugee. Filmed over 22 years by globetrotting filmmaker Robin Greenberg (Return of the Free China Junk), Kesang recounts his story, from his parents’ arrest in the wake of the 1959 uprising, to his advocacy for Tibetan environmental and political issues. He has become a point of contact for the global Tibetan community. The documentary was set to premiere at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival.
Kiwi Buddha follows the journey of seven-year-old Rinpoche as he becomes the first Buddhist High Lama incarnated in the Southern Hemisphere. ‘Venerable Pong Re Sung Rap Tulku Rinpoche', is a schoolboy from Kaukapakapa, north of Auckland. The film documents Rinpoche's journey as he leaves small town New Zealand behind (along with McDonalds and Pokemon) to travel to a monastery in the Himalayas where he will spend his next 20 years studying Buddhism. Kiwi Buddha sold to the National Geographic channel and to 60 territories.
Sound designer Mike Hopkins worked on more than 20 feature films. Along the way he won wide respect for his craft and the humble dedication he applied to it. He won awards for his work on Kiwi classics Illustrious Energy, Crush and Heavenly Creatures, and Oscars for his sound editing on King Kong and the second Lord of the Rings movie. Hopkins died in a rafting accident on 30 December 2012.
Philadelphia-born, but long calling Aotearoa her home, director Robin Greenberg has become a regular at the NZ International Film Festival thanks to films about Māori artists, the Tibetan Government in exile — and three documentaries inspired by her t’ai chi teacher, Huloo. The last of those, 2015's Return of the Free China Junk, continues the story of an old sailing junk which Huloo and friends sailed to the United States. In 2019 Greenberg followed up her portrait of Māori weaver Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Tu Tangata, with one of Erenora's husband, carver Rangi Hetet. She has also made educational films for the United Nations.
Aged 17, Max Quinn joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee cameraman. At 25 he was filming landmark television dramas like Hunter’s Gold. In 1980 he moved into directing and producing. Since joining Dunedin’s Natural History Unit (now NHNZ) in 1987, Quinn's many talents have helped cement his reputation as one of the most experienced polar filmmakers on the globe.
Peter Metcalf has four decades of experience in making it all look seamless. After 20 years in state television, he became TV3’s first Head Video Editor in Wellington. His credits include classics like Country Calendar and Kaleidoscope, plus Great War Stories, 35 short documentaries for TV3 commemorating the First World War. He also helped launch successful post-production suite Blue Bicycle Flicks.