This Geoff Steven doco follows NZ chefs Stephen Randle and Neville Ballantyne to a bitterly cold northern Japanese winter to compete in an international snow carving contest. Their entry, a sheep dipping scene created out of a 26 tonne block of snow, manages to look even more surreal in the icy Sapporo cityscape than the British team’s London double decker bus. Spirited competition in sub-zero temperatures produces an America’s Cup style rules controversy, but there’s light relief from the hard partying alternative American team from Portland, Oregon.
One day each summer, some of the oldest sailing ships in New Zealand gather at Sullivans Bay (also known as Otarawao) to take part in a race that dates back to 1858. The race is the premiere event of the Mahurangi Regatta. It's also a day when the community gets together to take part in sand sculpture competitions, running races and a hotly contested tug of war, usually resulting in triumph for the whānau from nearby Opahi Bay. First Hand captures the organisational dramas preceding the fun, and the community spirit inspiring this regular get together.
Tim Porch (Josh Thomson) aspires to be the world’s first Polynesian badminton champion — but a Samoan has already taken the title, so Tongan will have to do. This mockumentary following the ups and downs of his quest won the 2006 48 Hours film making competition. Entrants that year were required to include a mirror, a character called Robin Slade, an eternal optimist, and the line “that’s what I’m talking about”. The team behind it, thedownlowconcept, would go on to win the contest again in 2010 — and pick up a couple of NZ Film Awards in the process — with their short Only Son.
This animated series for Kiwi kids follows Massey Ferguson, the red tractor who lives with his farm equipment family on Murray and Heather’s farm. In this 12th instalment, Murray takes his boat Lazy Daisy out to the Harbour to defend his title in the annual fishing contest. Murray has hooked a big one but when competition appears in the form of a rude four-wheel drive, it’s up to Massey to save the day. The series was created by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In) and Brent Chambers from Flux Animation; Mora also narrates.
Before he achieved worldwide fame as an actor, Sam Neill directed documentary films for the National Film Unit. This film examines the philosophy, early achievements and frustrations of one of New Zealand's most innovative architects, Ian Athfield. Athfield won an international competition in 1975 to design housing for 140,000 squatters in Manila, in the Philippines, yet struggled to gain recognition back home. This film culminates in Athfield's trip to the Philippines to pursue the project. Shooter John Toon later memorably shot feature film Rain.
NZ Herald writer Michele Hewitson described the concept behind this series as "Popstars with jokes". Experienced comedian Paul Horan scours Aotearoa for fresh comedic talent; over the course of a month, fifteen newbies are tested in live and television settings. Each episode ends with eliminations — the "last stand-up standing" is crowned the winner. Comedians Jon Bridges and Raybon Kan join Horan as judges. The first episode features Queen St venue The Classic Comedy Club. The show was partly inspired by a stand-up contest for new acts held in the United Kingdom.
What Now? is a long-running entertainment show for primary school-aged children. Filmed before a live studio audience on weekend mornings, What Now? is a New Zealand TV institution; it was the first TV show to have live phone-ins. The series is known for its challenges that sometimes result in participants being 'gunged'. A roll-call of presenters includes Steve Parr, Danny Watson, Simon Barnett, Jason Gunn, Michelle A'Court, Tamati Coffey, Antonia Prebble, and more. 'Get out of your Lazy Bed' by Matt Bianco is the theme song memorable to generations of Kiwi kids.
The second feature film directed by writer Anthony McCarten (Ladies' Night) is a small tale with some big themes. Set in a New Plymouth car yard, the film chronicles an endurance contest in which a car will be awarded to the person who manages to keep their hands on it the longest. As night falls, solo mother Jess (Melanie Lynskey) finds herself fending off the attentions of an obstinate competitor (Craig Hall), with a much harsher vision of the world than hers. Inspired by similar real-life contests, McCarten based the film on his novel Endurance.
Five strangers give up their freedom to live in the confines of an apartment together in this 2004 reality series. It’s not all for nought though — $40,000 is up for grabs. Alliances are formed and newfound friendships quickly betrayed, as the contestants try to keep things civil with their inescapable roommates. The contestants in this first episode are builder Riki, project officer Marcella, business developer Brett, and students CC and “nice guy” Arron. Retracting walls leading to the quiz area and food delivered in a perspex box remind contestants they are totally trapped.
This ‘best in show' documentary follows three poodle breeders competing for first at the NZ Dog Show. It observes the eccentricity and obsessiveness of the competitive dog world. Controversial at the time for focusing just on standard poodles, such perceived favouritism did not go down well on the dog show circuit. Prize Bitch came from the successful pairing of Jude Callen and Megan Jones, whose documentary Return To Romania won awards. Callen went on to become TVNZ's Senior Documentary Commissioner.