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.
This short documentary from the Loading Docs series is a profile of artist John Radford, and his alter ego Ron Jadford. Both are concerned with real estate. Director Ursula Grace Williams captures Radford creating Graft, an artwork consisting of 256 miniature replicas of 1900s suburban villas. Spray-tanned Jadford, with tinted sunnies, moustache and mobile phone, is the real estate agent selling the houses, and he won’t take no for an answer. The short documentary explores art as performance, the creative process, and the line between art and business.
Anne and Gordon left high school unable to read or write to a basic level. This documentary follows their progress with the Auckland Adult Literacy Scheme, and culminates with the pair sitting the written and oral exam for their drivers' licence. Anne found innovative ways around the kids' bedtime stories, but froze when it came to filling in forms. Gordon has been driving illegally for years; he wants to ace his drivers' test and finds an acceptance within the Adult Literacy Scheme he never did at school. The First Hand series has a stripped back style, using small cameras and crews.
Performance group The Front Lawn (Don McGlashan, Harry Sinclair, and later arrival Jennifer Ward-Lealand) stretched all of their prolific talents for their final, 24 minute short film. After he whistles a certain tune, Ben (McGlashan) finds that his partner Linda (Ward-Lealand) no longer seems to be conscious. Then things get stranger: Linda catches up with an old lover (Sinclair) and faces a life-changing dilemma, while her body — awol with a tennis player on Tamaki Drive — has other plans. The surreal romance was made for TVNZ. It won Best Short at the 1990 NZ Screen Awards.
This 1949 NFU film visits Western Samoa. Director Stanhope Andrews surveys life in the “lotus land of the Pacific”, showing taro and coconut harvest, cooking in umu, and church and fale building, as “the flower-decked girls sing and dance beneath the palms”. The benefits of New Zealand’s then-administration are shown (eg. medical services, education) but the travelogue ignores earlier ignominious acts, such as the quarantine blunder that saw one in five Samoans fall to influenza. The Olemani Aufaipese (choir) provides the score. Samoa won independence in 1962.
Aimed at teaching kids to stay safe and do the best for themselves and their communities, Bryan and Bobby offers a friendly face to the New Zealand Police. In this episode Senior Constable Bryan Ward talks to Bobby, his talking pup partner, about the importance of serial numbers and keeping a record of them. With jokes a plenty, often about Bobby’s insatiable appetite, the show keeps things friendly and accessible. Bryan and Bobby have toured schools to promote the SNAP programme, which allows details of assets to be stored online. Children's TV veteran Suzy Cato produces.
In 2015 celebrated Czech choreographer Jiří Bubeníček and his twin brother and designer Otto adapted award-winning film The Piano into a full-length ballet. With her second big screen documentary, Crossing Rachmaninoff director Rebecca Tansley followed the pair as they arrive in New Zealand, and begin expanding their original production for a 2018 season with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Bubeníček faces difficult artistic decisions as he and Māori Advisor Moss Te Ururangi Patterson try to find common ground while deepening the ballet's Māori elements and themes.
This documentary follows Auckland-based, Italian-born pianist Flavio Villani as he prepares to play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 2 in Italy — his debut performance as a soloist with an orchestra. Director Rebecca Tansley, who funded much of the documentary herself, tails Villani from four months before the recital that will challenge the prodigal son to affirm his career choice and sexuality, in front of his Italian ex-military father. When it debuted at the 2015 Auckland Film Festival, Crossing Rachmaninoff won a standing ovation.
This short is about a Dad and two sons who are rudderless in suburbia following the death of their wife/mother. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Lars, the film focuses on his relationship with his struggling father, who drowns his sorrows and covets the neighbour. Lars and Peter’s tender exploration of the murkiness of grief and adjustment saw it selected in competition at Cannes (2009). It was made in Denmark by Dunedin expat Daniel Borgman: “life is hard, but it’s also really beautiful, and film is a great medium in which to render that contrast”.
A light-hearted short film from director Peter Salmon, starring veteran performer Mark Clare (Clare achieved fame as the bungy jumper in the classic 1992 Instant Kiwi ad and is the singer for legendary NZ band The Newmatics). Here Clare plays a real estate agent with a penchant for song and dance who discovers he can make music by jumping on the creaky floorboards of an old villa. But wait, there's a punch line to this quirky little comedy that Roald Dahl would be proud of: a sinister surprise lies in wait beneath the floorboards.