Sex and Agriculture

The Exponents / The Dance Exponents, Music Video, 1984

Dance Exponents were the crown princes of NZ pop when they released this left field follow-up to their very successful debut album. ‘Sex and Agriculture’ introduced new guitarist Chris Sheehan and marked a major departure from hook-filled pop songs into harder, noisier territory. A rhythmic, driving soundtrack punctuated by Sheehan’s atmospheric guitar undercuts lyrics that could describe a rural idyll. Jordan Luck grows increasingly desperate in this shadowy, constricted TVNZ video which echoes the song’s dark claustrophobic sense of rural dread.

Pictorial Parade No. 129 - Twenty One Years

Short Film, 1962 (Full Length)

This special edition of the National Film Unit’s monthly magazine series looks at some of the “people, places and events filmed by our cameramen during the years 1941 - 1962”. The NFU’s 21st birthday review — compiled by David H Fowler — ranges from wartime newsreels to the post-war boom (factories, dams, industrial agriculture), from salvos to Peter Snell. Other images include Kiwi soldiers playing rugby in Korea, and cigarettes hanging from the lips of firemen fighting Christchurch's Ballantyne Department Store fire in 1947.

Farming in New Zealand

Short Film, 1952 (Full Length)

A pocket survey of the diversity of Kiwi farming circa 1952, this film serves as a booster’s reminder that thanks to self-reliance and research, New Zealand ranks as “one of the world’s great farming countries”. Cameraman Brian Brake captures arresting high contrast imagery: cattle move in silhouette against the sky; dust-caked fertiliser trucks emerge from clouds of lime; shirtless WWII veterans load silage onto harvesters. Meanwhile an upbeat, nationalistic voiceover pays homage to the holy trinity of good pasture, stock and climate.

One Man, One Cow, One Planet

Film, 2007 (Trailer and Excerpts)

This film looks at biodynamic agriculture, a Rudolph Steiner-inspired system of organic farming. The film focuses on Peter Proctor, a worm-obsessed Kiwi gardener, and his work promoting biodynamics worldwide — particularly in India, where he argues that modern industrial agriculture (eg artificial chemicals, GM seeds) has made soil and plants toxic and farming unsustainable. Proctor's simple recipe to save the planet? One man and a bucket of cow dung. Narrated by American actor Peter Coyote (E.T.), One Man screened worldwide at environmental film festivals. 

From Indonesia to India

Short Film, 1962 (Full Length)

The Colombo Plan was a Commonwealth “federation of neighbours” which aimed to counter communism in Asia by providing development aid in the area's poorer countries. This National Film Unit short, directed by future NFU manager David H Fowler, ranges across Asia as it surveys New Zealand’s contributions to the postwar plan: funding hospitals, agriculture and education in Indonesia, Malaya, Sarawak, North Borneo, Pakistan and India. The film also visits Colombo students in their home countries, passing on skills that they learned while studying at NZ universities.

About Face - The Lamb of God

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

Two decades before the animals of Black Sheep run amok, comes this Sunday night horror about a couple trapped in the countryside as the sheep start getting restless. In between encounters with a cheerful butcher and a man of God, we learn that New Zealand has undergone revolution: anyone who farms or harms animals is now branded a criminal. Directed by Costa Botes; scripted by poet and lawyer Piers Davies, who co-wrote Skin Deep (plus cult movie The Cars that Ate Paris, with acclaimed Australian director Peter Weir).   

Intrepid Journeys - Egypt (Marcus Lush)

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Before he went Off the Rails Marcus Lush went off the beaten track to Egypt. He takes on a camel and donkey, drifts down The Nile aboard a felucca, samples the local fast food and deals with a dose of ‘Nile Belly'. Ancient treasures and stunning desert landscapes don't hide a more problematic recent history. But the warmth of the locals - Muslim or Christian - makes Lush a convert. When Lush tries the local Cairo barber he loses some eyelashes ("when in Rome") but nevertheless finds the whole Egypt experience to be an "eye opener."

American Pie - 5, Episode Five

Television, 1988 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of director Geoff Steven's USA road trip is another study in contrasts. In North Dakota, there’s impressive access to an underground missile control room staffed by highly trained officers who hope they never have to do the job for which they've prepared. Nearby, the members of a determinedly pacifist, Christian, socialist Hutterite community make for unlikely neighbours. There's also an exploration of small town values as Gilby celebrates its centenary on the 4th of July — while a John Birch Society member provides a less festive note.

Dog Squad - Series Two, Episode One

Television, 2011 (Full Length Episode)

This long-running series tails working dogs and their handlers, who are helping protect New Zealand’s streets, borders, prisons and national parks. This opening episode of the second season sees dog squad member Dan "come a cropper", while chasing thieves; one prison visitor leaves with an unusual gift from inside (while other visitors are worried about their drugs from the night before); and Auckland Airport sniffer dogs snuff out some unwanted imports. Dog Squad's first two seasons were produced by Cream Media, shortly before the company was taken over by Greenstone TV.

Pictorial Parade No. 23 - Pumicelands

Short Film, 1954 (Full Length)

This film outlines the efforts to transform the “barren” pumice lands of the North Island’s Central Plateau into arable farmland. Once scientists discover the magic missing ingredient that will make the soil more fertile (cobalt chloride), the serious job of burning scrub, ploughing and sowing begins. The film uses a traditional 'triumph over nature' narrative, but director John Feeney makes elegant use of montage and composition. Author Maurice Shadbolt, who spent time working at the National Film Unit, regarded it as "without doubt the best film to come from the Unit".