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Weekly Review No. 355 - Railway Worker

Short Film, 1948 (Full Length)

This 1948 documentary follows 24 hours of work on the railways. It was directed for the National Film Unit by New Zealand’s first female film director, Margaret Thomson. It shows the engines and commuter trains preparing to leave Wellington, and the overnight train arriving from Auckland. Workers toil on the railway lines above the remote Waimakariri Gorge, and the town of Otira gets ready for a dance. The final shots are of an engine coming through the dawn and back to the city.

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The Years Back - 8, Making Do (Episode Eight)

Television, 1973 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of archive-compiled The Years Back series sees presenter Bernard Kearns exploring how New Zealand coped on the home front as World War II expanded into South East Asia and the Pacific. Access to imports was hampered and rationing bit. Fuel and rubber shortages are overcome with novel approaches and farmland becomes the garden for our allies. The episode also examines how industry switched from civilian needs to making war materials. The Home Guard changes from a bit of a laugh to deadly seriousness as the threat grows of invasion by Japan.

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Mis-drop

Short Film, 2014 (Full Length)

A helmet cam records the claustrophobic reactions of a rookie mercenary (Elliot Travers) as an interplanetary combat raid goes wrong in Ferand Peek's debut short. Peek produced the one-shot DIY Gravity in Wellington over five years. Audio was recorded first, then Travers (shot in a special rig), then CGI effects were forged with the help of Miramar/Weta filmmaking crew. The result was touted by io9 doyen Annalee Newitz: “All we see of the world around him are reflections in his helmet, and yet the suspense is incredible. Plus, the story [is] surprisingly moving.” 

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Triumph of the Human Spirit

Television, 1996 (Full Length)

Fronted by Paul Holmes, this doco looks at the New Zealand Paralympic team at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. It was the most successful team to date with a haul of nine gold medals, six silver and four bronze (and 44 personal bests). Triumph focuses on several disabled Kiwi athletes, from their arrival in the States to victory on the track, in the pool and on the field. The first Paralympics were held in Rome in 1960 with just 400 competitors. In Atlanta 3,500 athletes competed, 35 of them kiwis. Triumph broke ground screening in a primetime slot on TV One.  

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Kaleidoscope - Young Composers

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

TVNZ’s arts programme visits the 6th annual Young Composers Workshop held at the Nelson School of Music (May, 1987). It allows 20 promising young composers to hear their music performed and to compare notes with their peers — an opportunity that wasn’t available two decades earlier for budding composers like workshop organiser Ross Harris. Solo instrumental works, ensemble pieces and electronic music are featured — with inspiration found in everything from poems by James K Baxter and Sylvia Plath to slipping and falling while walking down a hill.

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Swagger - Series Four, Episode One

Television, 2017 (Full Length Episode)

This Māori Television series merged old media and new: giving a group of young people iPhones and storytelling workshops, and empowering them to tell their own fun stories. In this fourth season episode, the slices of life include: swimming with whales off Tonga, a Te Tai Tokerau marae challenge, holidaying in Sydney and learning to surf in Bali, filming live rugby league at Mt Smart, basketball trials, farewelling a mate at the airport with a haka, and a stage-shaking kapa haka act. Press on the 'CC' symbol below the screen to find subtitles for (occasional) te reo.

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Series

Swagger

Television, 2014–ongoing

In this Māori Television series, young people aged from nine to 26 are armed with iPhones and given professional storytelling workshops, so that they can tell their own stories. The slices of life as a young Māori in the early 21st Century include sport, travel, fitness routines, pancake cooking, diet and fashion tips, kapa haka, and swimming with whales. Four series have been produced by Raukatauri Productions to date. Some of those who contributed to early episodes have stayed in screen work —including all-rounder Ngawaero Maniapoto, and actor Te Kaha Jonathan. 

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A Sense of Involvement

Short Film, 1977 (Full Length)

This award-winning National Film Unit documentary looks at the craft movement in New Zealand, as this counterpoint to industrial mass production went mainstream. The sense of involvement in the title refers to the individual skills that potters, weavers, printmakers, furniture makers and sculptors bring to making their objects. Director David Sims avoids narration, instead using music from composer Tony Baker to score scenes of the makers at work, from the loom, furnace and kiln, to workshop and studio. As a flashback to the late 70s, facial hair, ceramics and wool abound.

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The Living Room - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 2004 (Full Length Episode)

Roots reggae act Kora present this Living Room episode from the beach at Whakatane — hometown for the four Queenstown-based brothers. Then ex-Mental As Anything guitarist Reg Mombassa (born in Auckland as Chris O'Doherty) talks from Sydney about his iconic artworks for Mambo — including the notorious Australian Jesus series — and wonders if he's turning into a blowfly. Finally there’s a profile of outsider artist Martin Thompson, whose painstaking mathematically-based work has travelled from Wellington community workshops to Wallpaper* magazine.

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Artist

DLT featuring Che Fu

Napier raised hip hop producer Darryl Thomson (DLT) is thought to be the first person to 'scratch' on a New Zealand produced record. At 16 he was inspired by a Life article about rap and breakdancing. He was a founding member of influential Kiwi hip hop groups Upper Hutt Posse and Dam Native. In 1996 he collaborated with Che Fu, who had recently left the band Supergroove. The result was single 'Chains', which topped the Kiwi charts, won three NZ Music Awards including Best Single, and kick-started Che Fu's solo career. These days DLT runs workshops on creating art and making beats, and is a father.