In 1989 dancer Douglas Wright returned home to choreograph and form his own company. This half-hour TV documentary, marking the launch of his work Gloria, looks back on a blossoming career that began at 21 — when he took up ballet to overcome a heroin addiction. After becoming a star with Limbs, Wright joined prestigious troupes in London and New York. Now, as opening night looms, he is acutely aware of the danger of pushing his dancers too hard as he fights to get the best out of them on an ambitious, demanding piece. Douglas passed away in November 2018.
Māori Television’s award-winning news and current affairs show took its bold name from a colonial government department. This 2017 episode profiles four non-conformists: Mongrel Mob boss Rex Timu’s war on P; Raihania Tipoki's waka protest against East Coast oil surveying; Taranaki mother Tina Tupe's preparations for her own tangi; and globetrotting screenwriter David Seidler. Seidler makes an annual trip to a Tarawera cabin – he has a Kiwi son to a Māori woman – and talks about his Oscar-winning movie The King’s Speech, and his admiration for kapa haka.
American-raised, Kiwi based photographer Todd Henry produced this documentary for Vice, after meeting deportee 'Ila Mo'unga while visiting Tonga. Mo'unga was drawn to Henry after hearing his familiar American accent. Tonga is now home to hundreds of deportees — permanent residents of New Zealand, Australia or the United States who committed serious crimes and did jailtime, then were put on a plane to start a new life in an unfamiliar culture. The lucky ones have family land, or a place to stay. But many start from scratch and without institutional support, old bad habits can kick in.
Director Grahame McLean uses the notorious (then recent) 'Mr Asia' drug smuggling saga as fodder for this Wellington underbelly tale. Hello Sailor’s Harry Lyon headlines as a musician and ex-con who partners with a beautiful journo to investigate a global drug syndicate, in between nightclub sessions with fellow musos Beaver and Hammond Gamble. High on 80s guitar licks, Should I be Good? was made in the tax break era without Film Commission investment. McLean followed it right away with The Lie of the Land, becoming a rare Kiwi to make two movies back to back.
A woman running an Auckland laundromat finds herself accosted by a drug addict. A frustrated customer struggles with a machine that is out of order and ruining her expensive clothes. Somewhere across the city police are on their way to a drug bust. However all is not what it seems on Karangahape Road, and the consequences look to be life altering. The three tales in this film were made as part of NZ On Air funded K’ Rd Stories, a collection of short films which all tell stories set around Auckland’s most legendary, notorious, and arguably most beloved street.
This Inside New Zealand doco takes a calm, no nonsense look at one man’s encounter with heroin addiction — a habit he estimates cost him a seven figure sum. Far from being the clichéd junkie loser, Tim was a husband, father and successful businessman who remarkably didn’t think twice about dabbling with a drug that had already taken the life of one of his sisters. Nine years after it led him to detox and rehab, Tim and his mother and sister talk about his addiction and its impact on their lives — without glamorising or demonising the drug or its users.
When his father dies, soldier Will Bastion (Temuera Morrison) returns home after 20 years. Tradition dictates he take on the mantle of tribal chief, but he's not interested. His brother Kahu (Lawrence Makoare) seizes the opportunity, but he's a drug-dealer with grand plans to get stolen land back. Worried about Kahu's provocative approach, Will must choose whether to face off against his brother. Melding horseback action and indigenous land rights, Crooked Earth marked the first NZ film for director Sam Pillsbury since 1987's Starlight Hotel. Variety called it "handsomely mounted and compelling".
Orange Roughies was a 'border security' drama series following a Police and Customs task force in Auckland. Storylines included drugs busts, undercover ops and plenty of motorised chase action. In this excerpt from the first episode, customs officer Jane Durant (McLeod's Daughters actor Zoe Naylor) boards a ship suspected of trafficking children from China. The TV One series was devised by ex policeman Scott McJorrow and Rod Johns, for production company ScreenWorks.
In 2006, Th’ Dudes reformed after 26 years. This documentary follows them on a national tour as members Peter Urlich, Dave Dobbyn, Ian Morris, Lez White and Bruce Hambling reflect on their former lives as late 70s pop stars. Encouraged to behave like stars, they didn’t disappoint. There are frank discussions about sex, drugs, an obscene t-shirt, on-stage nudity and other bad behaviour — but also the stories behind classic songs like ‘Bliss’, ‘Right First Time’ and ‘Be Mine Tonight’, which still captivate adoring, if aging, audiences a quarter of a century later.
Passion project The Lunatics' Ball follows an unorthodox psychologist who arrives at a psychiatric hospital and tries to use art, joy and respect to motivate his patients. First-timer Michael Thorp wrote the script partly out of worries that drug-based treatment programmes could prove more of a trap than a solution. After casting American-born oboist Russel Walder in the main role, and shooting on a shoestring, Thorp completed editing thanks to $400,000 in Film Commission funding, and help from some major industry names. The result won a jury prize at the Shanghai Film Festival.