Celebrated actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand began her career as a child and made her screen debut on Paul Maunder-directed Gone Up North for a While aged nine. In her teens she played rebellious Jan in soap opera Close to Home, attended drama school, and on venturing into the professional world, started winning roles, including TV series Seekers, with Temuera Morrision. Her film roles include the colonial glamour drama Desperate Remedies.
Peter Jackson has gone from shy fanboy to master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood. With six journeys into Middle-earth now behind him, he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking. Led by early 'behind the scenes' docos this collection pays tribute to PJ's journey, from re-making King Kong in his backyard to err ... re-making King Kong in his backyard.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. As this collection demonstrates, his genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. As Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd says in his backgrounder, “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”. Russell Brown adds his view here. Alongside music videos, the collection also includes interviews with Knox and profiles of bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs.
This Loading Doc short follows cavers Dave Ellacott and Mike Allen on their mission to connect Luckie Strike and Junior Mudball, two vastly different cave systems at Waitomo. Luckie Strike features extraordinary rock formations, waterfalls, and vast caverns. Junior Mudball is as its name suggests, mostly mud. The short sees them at work, galavanting through streams, abseiling down crevasses and scraping through mud — and reflecting on what they love about it. Luckie Strike was picked by National Geographic for its Short Film Showcase. A longer version is in the works.
Keith Aberdein devised Epidemic after being given the brief to write a drama about “disease coming into New Zealand”. Set in a small North Island town where race relations are strained to breaking point, this four part virus outbreak thriller revolves around Māori tāpū and an archaeological dig which locals are worried will disturb the graves of their ancestors. An accomplished cast (Martyn Sanderson, Don Selwyn, Cathy Downes) helped the series break bicultural-themed TV drama ground as European education and culture, and Māori tradition and spirituality collide.
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".
Law graduate, documentary director and onetime talkback host Moana Maniapoto is also a longtime champion of music in te reo. With the Moahunters — vocalists Teremoana Rapley and Mina Ripia, backed by an accomplished team of funk musicians — she fused pop and hip hop with Māori culture and politics, and scored hit singles with ‘Black Pearl’ and ‘AEIOU’. After disbanding the Moahunters in 1998, she formed Moana and the Tribe. The group adds haka and video projections to create a multi-media experience which has enjoyed considerable international success on the world music circuit.
Matthew Chicoine aka Recloose was an accomplished DJ and producer in his native Detroit before he moved to Aotearoa in 2001. The fusion of a fresh, edge-of-the-planet perspective, with the dance music heritage of Motor City allowed him to forge new musical paths, from playing with Carl Craig's Interzone orchestra to collaborating with Joe (Fat Freddys Drop) Dukie. The stonking dance floor beats and sax jams of Recloose's renowned live shows were captured on 2008's Perfect Timing, which won Best Electronica/Dance album at the NZ Music Awards.
Emma Davies Dixon summarises her husband Scott's need for speed in this documentary about the IndyCar driver: "...unless he's going really fast, he doesn't feel alive." Dixon has won the IndyCar World Championship several times, making him one of New Zealand's most accomplished professional racing drivers. Directed by Bryn Evans (Hip Hop-eration), Born Racer - The Scott Dixon Story follows Dixon during the 2017 IndyCar season, and includes home movies of Dixon racing as a child. The documentary includes Dixon crashing spectacularly in the Indy500.