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Song of the Siren

Short Film, 1997 (Full Length)

This short film is one of writer/director Fiona Samuel’s first directorial efforts, and is a stylish and quirky tale of a plain woman with a beautiful voice who is trapped in a difficult life caring for her cranky elderly father. The singer waiting to bloom is beautifully played by actual singer Janet Roddick (Six Volts) in a rare on-screen role, and Desmond Kelly puts in a strong performance as the cantankerous Dad. The film won the Golden Mikeldi at 1997's Bilbao International Festival of Documentary and Short Film.

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Romeo and Juliet - A Love Song

Film, 2013 (Trailer)

This musical retooling of the ill-fated star-crossed love story began life as a concept album by ex Screaming Meemee members Peter van der Fluit and Michael McNeill. In 2010 they sent 38 songs to director Tim van Dammen, who decided to retell Shakespeare's classic romance as "a sort of trash opera — like an updated John Waters type thing". A caravan park is the canvas for a cast of beautiful young things, pop, rap, blades and beer crates. NZ Herald's Dominic Corry praised the film for its "emotionally-assured grasp of what makes this famous story so enduring".

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Poi E: The Story of Our Song

Film, 2016 (Trailer)

Poi E: The Story of Our Song tells the story behind one of New Zealand’s most iconic pop songs. Led by Dalvanius Prime, the Patea Māori Club single was released soon after the closure of the town’s freezing works. Conquering disinterest from record labels and radio, Poi E became New Zealand's highest selling single in 1984. Written and directed by Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion), the "warm, funny, touching" documentary (NZ Herald) features interviews with those involved, and famous fans (eg Taika Waititi). Poi E won applause after premiering at the opening of the 2016 Auckland Film Festival. 

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Song of Protest

Television, 1986 (Full Length Episode)

This Wild South documentary opens with the haunting call of the kōkako ringing out over the forest canopy at dawn. The film tells the story of Aotearoa’s "avian squirrel" and its struggle for survival — living with introduced cats and rats, while the remnants of its North Island rainforest home face logging. The songbird is framed as an icon of both conservation loss and hope. The script is by poet Brian Turner. The use of composer Hirini Melbourne’s score (with lyrics in te reo) was praised by award judges at British nature film festival Wildscreen.

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Series

My Party Song

Television, 2017

This Māori Television series aimed to celebrate Aotearoa’s "favourite party songs", through showband renditions led by the Modern Māori Quartet. Inspired by the great Kiwi garage party, each week the quartet (Francis Kora, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and James Tito) host special guests — some famous, some not —  who are invited to perform their favourite track. They include Temuera Morrison, Tina Cross, Ria Hall, Jan Hellriegel and Troy Kingi. The members of the "Māori rat pack" met at drama school Toi Whakaari. They were the houseband on short-lived variety series Happy Hour.

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Collection

The Hello Sailor Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Hello Sailor's time in the sun saw them spending time in Ponsonby, LA and Sydney, becoming a legendary live act, and releasing an iconic debut album. This collection features documentary Sailor's Voyage, founder member Harry Lyon's account of the birth of the band, and tracks from Hello Sailor, both together and apart. Some of the solo songs were incorporated into the group's live set after they reunited. Included are 'Blue Lady', 'New Tattoo' and 'Gutter Black’, later reborn on TV's Outrageous Fortune.

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Alligator Song

Bill Direen, Music Video, 1985

With its mysteriously instructive "do the alligator" lyric, 'Alligator Song' is still a crowd-requested favourite at Bill Direen's live shows. The song is taken from the Flying Nun LP CoNCH3 that featured a new line-up of the Bilders, including bassist Greg Bainbridge and drummer Stuart Page. The video's moody feel and emphasis on the physical movement of an exotic dancer in the back alleys of Christchurch reflect Direen's previous projects with Blue Ladder Theatre. The location was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and is now in the red zone.

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Coast Song

The Rabble, Music Video, 2007

The shoot required a diverse crowd of coasters (Hibiscus Coast) in order to portray the feeling of unity and multicultural inclusiveness the band were after.   "The idea of us playing in a community hall was to give it that inclusive feel, rather than a clichêd scrappy street punk vibe. We wanted our audience to know that we're more than that. At one stage I had to hold up a big sheet with lyrics on it, pointing out the words for the crowd as we went along."Chaz from The Rabble - Feb 09

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Fork Songs

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1991

A compilation of four short ditties from the Tall Dwarfs’ Fork Songs album - ‘Wings’, ‘Lowlands’, ‘Oatmeal’, and ‘Two Humans’. The linked clips all feature assorted forms of stop frame animation and film scratching - Wings has a hand-drawn animated border; Lowlands uses the phone book as a background for a range of animated doodles; Oatmeal does unspeakable things with two raw chickens and other meat products; and Two Humans flickers through what seems like hundreds of different human faces. Simple but clever, as is the Chris Knox way.

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Collection

The Top 10 NZ Television Ads

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.