Set in a small New Zealand town, Closer is the story of a deaf teenage boy trying to come to terms with the death of his older sister. An emotionally locked-down father who has limited knowledge of sign language compounds his struggle. Written and directed by David Rittey (We The Living), and co-written by poet Therese Lloyd, Closer is a moving portrayal of the power and complexity of silence. Closer won Best Short Film and Best Performance at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards, and was selected to compete for the top short film prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Smash Palace is a Kiwi cinema classic and launched Roger Donaldson's American career. Al Shaw (a brilliant, brooding Bruno Lawrence) is a racing car driver who now runs a wrecker's yard in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. His French wife Jacqui is unhappy there and leaves him, taking up with Al's best mate. When she restricts Al's access to his young daughter, his frustration explodes and he goes bush with the girl, desperate not to lose her too. "There's no road back" runs the tagline. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "amazingly accomplished".
Smith (Sam Neill, in his breakthrough screen role) is devastated when his wife runs off with his best friend Bullen (Ian Mune). Smith escapes to the Coromandel. Meanwhile, the government enlists an anti-terrorist force to crack down on its opponents. Bullen, now a guerrilla, asks Smith to join the revolution. Directed by Roger Donaldson, this adaptation of CK Stead's novel Smith's Dream heralded a new wave of Kiwi cinema; it was one of the only local films of the 1970s to win a big local audience. This excerpt includes a much talked about scene: a baton charge by government forces.
It's Wellington in the 1970s and Bob (Jeremy Stephens) is having a midlife crisis. Square-peg Graham (Bill Johnson, who later played Mr Wilberforce in Under the Mountain) tries to convince Bob to quit his bohemian lifestyle (and his lover/muse Carol) and return to his wife Jean. But is Graham really acting in his mate's best interests? Featuring a young Sam Neill as the epitome of handsome, unfettered youth (flared jeans, bushy beard) this early, well-received TV drama was one of several produced by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation to tackle 'difficult' contemporary issues.
Tom Scott made his name for his portraits - both written and drawn - of politics and politicians, and for getting thrown out of the occasional press conference by Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. But Scott has also had a diverse career in the screen industry. Apart from writing feature film Separation City, he has worked with racist school teachers, animated border collies, and written drama and documentaries on iconic Kiwis David Lange and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Michelle Langstone is an actor with many dramatic faces: a murder obsessed woman in For Good, a Norse goddess in The Almighty Johnsons, an unfaithful wife in Go Girls, and a tenacious stirrer in McLeod's Daughters. Langstone has also appeared in a number of international fantasy shows including Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker and Power Rangers.
The penultimate Pop Mechanix single was an exploration of carnality, anchored by chiming guitars with vocals by Andrew McLennan (Coconut Rough and 'Sierra Leone'). It was one of the first music videos directed by Spot On video competition winner Paul Middleditch, who was still at school. He went on to make videos for Tim Finn and Tex Pistol, commercials, and 2009 movie Separation City. The location was a cold, disused office. “Luckily,” says bass player Paul Scott, “we were into leather jackets, big coats and damn big hair because the place was absolutely freezing”.
Cohen Holloway is a singer, actor and comedian who first made an impact on comedy shows Pulp Comedy and Facelift. Holloway went on to act in movies After the Waterfall, and Taika Waititi hits Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2009 he won a Qantas Best Actor Award after starring as David Dougherty in TV drama Until Proven Innocent. In 2015 he starred in Māori Television’s acclaimed comedy series Find Me a Māori Bride.
Danielle Cormack began acting on stage, then won a coveted role on popular 80s soap Gloss in her teens. She went on to a one year stint in the early days of Shortland Street. Cormack co-starred in both the TV show and movie versions of Topless Women Talk About Their Lives; her pregnancy was incorporated into the storyline. Cormack's other work includes The Price of Milk and Australian TV hit Wentworth.