Between 1964-1972, 4,000 young New Zealanders volunteered for service in Vietnam. Itching to get out into the world and do something exciting, the thrills were soon replaced by the grim reality of war. Things deteriorated further when they returned home to face an angry public; they were told to get out of their uniform quickly and not to tell anyone where they had been. This documentary gives the soldiers a chance to tell their stories for the first time. Interspersed with the interviews are 8mm film clips and selected official war footage.
Actor Wi Kuki Kaa (1938 - 2006) plays Tiare, a Vietnam War veteran who is dislocated by his experiences of war, and homelessness. He wanders the city streets, collecting ephemera in plastic bags. Nancy Brunning plays his daughter, who, with her own daughter, visits their reluctant koro (old man) to convince him to visit his ancestral home. The result is a moving story about a man jolted to find his turangawaewae (place to stand), and the whanau that helps him get there. Directed by Peter Burger, the film was selected for Critics' Week at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
In this experimental drama shot in 1975, four young idealists escape the city for rural Foxton, and set about living off the land. But an act of violence sends the commune into isolation and extremism. Teasing tense drama from rural settings, the 90 minute tale from maverick National Film Unit director Paul Maunder shines a harsh light on the contradictions of the frontier spirit. Although state television funded it, they found it too edgy to screen; instead Landfall debuted at the 1977 Wellington Film Festival. The cast includes Sam Neill as a Vietnam vet, and Mark ll director John Anderson.
A dark and mystery-filled drama about a 70s hippy (Danielle Cormack) who falls in love with a Vietnam vet (Kevin Smith). But has fate brought them together, only in order to drive them apart? And what exactly happened to their child? This twist-filled tale of seances, damaged people, and conflicting versions of truth marked the directorial debut of short filmmaker Christine Parker. At the 1999 New Zealand film awards, Channelling Baby was nominated in six categories, including best actress and best original screenplay. Read more about the film here.
Vietnam veteran Thomas Brosnahan shares his time spent in the military in this Memories of Service Interview. He moved from the Territorial Forces to the army at 23 to join his two brothers, before heading off to the war in Southeast Asia. He would spend 20 years in military service across Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, including active duty in the capital, Saigon. As well as the Vietnam War itself, Brosnahan reflects on life after the war, particularly on the hostility vets faced from the public upon returning home, and the effects of agent orange on his former colleagues.
After working his way up through the ranks of TVNZ in the 80s, producer Gavin Wood travelled the world to work on reality game shows across 10 countries. Alongside work on the local versions of popular game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, he produced live coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup opening ceremony on the Auckland waterfront — which went live to 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Kevin Smith was the multi-talented actor who appeared in a host of television shows, starting with eighties soap Gloss. He also starred in three tele-movies as maverick private investigator John Lawless. His feature films include period melodrama Desperate Remedies, and offbeat drama Channelling Baby.
Danielle Cormack has showcased her naturalistic, seemingly effortless acting style on both sides of the Tasman. After roles in TV soaps Gloss and Shortland Street, she began a run of big screen starring roles — Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, The Price of Milk and Via Satellite (playing twins). On Australian TV, Cormack has starred as a prisoner (Wentworth), crime lord (Underbelly: Razor) and barrister (Rake).
Paul Casserly won a Qantas TV Award in 2009 for directing upstart satirical show Eating Media Lunch. The show ran for six years on TVNZ. Casserly continued his creative partnership with presenter Jeremy Wells on The Unauthorised History of New Zealand and Birdland. Casserly has also directed music programmes for Neil Finn and Bic Runga, and videos for Greg Johnson, Tim Finn, and his own group Strawpeople.