Collection

Kiwi Comedy On TV

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure." 

Have You Tried, Maybe, Not Worrying?

Short Film, 2016 (Full Length)

This 2016 short film follows a young woman (Florence Noble, from The Jaquie Brown Diaries) as she deals with debilitating panic attacks. On a road trip to a beach party, a friend (Jordan Vaha’akolo) sympathises with her struggles. Later he comes around for a cuppa to be there for her. Director Rachel Ross based the story on her personal experience of severe anxiety. "I was shocked to hear that people were struggling as severely as I was but kept it quiet. They were ashamed. It was this journey and realisation that catapulted the premise of this short film."

Dislawderly - Series One

Web, 2017 (Full Length Episodes)

Actor and law student Georgia Rippin mined her own experience to create this web series, a tragicomic portrait of a young woman at Auckland University. Rippen plays Audrey, whose misadventures span exam stress, boyfriend angst, anxiety, and sexism in the legal world. In 2017 The NZ Herald rated Dislawderly among the best new local web series; Karl Puschmann praised the amount of satire squeezed into the short running time, saying that each of season one's seven episodes "features a couple of genuine lols and offers a new spin on the classic style of cringe comedy." 

The Audition

Short Film, 1989 (Full Length)

Anna Campion directs her mother Edith and younger sister Jane in this slyly observed short: a re-imagining of Edith’s (reluctant) audition for a small role in Jane’s An Angel at My Table. From when Edith picks Jane up at the airport en route to her Otaki home, the professional and personal roles blur. Anxiety, huffs and matriarchal needling ensue as an often comic, sometimes poignant domestic tango between the former stage actress and film director Jane plays out in front of the camera. Anna was studying at London’s Royal College of Art when the film was made.

Loading Docs 2015 - Madness Made Me

Web, 2015 (Full Length)

Mary O’Hagan spent five years of her early 20s confined to a psychiatric hospital. This short documentary has O’Hagan reading back the doctors' reports on her mental illness, and comparing them with her own journal entries at the time. In turn the film presents a critique of the treatment of mental illness that O’Hagan endured. The film’s title, Madness Made Me, is also that of O’Hagan’s own memoir, which chronicles her experience with mental illness. The film was made as part of Loading Docs, a series of short films made for exhibition online.

Cinema of Unease

Film, 1995 (Excerpts)

Sam Neill weaves portions of autobiography into an idiosyncratic, acclaimed yet controversial analysis of Kiwi cinema — from its crude beginnings, to the dark flowering of achievement seen in the breakthrough films of Peter Jackson, Lee Tamahori, and Jane Campion. Directed by Neill and Judy Rymer, as one of 18 films commissioned for the British Film Institute's Century of Cinema series, the award-winning documentary debuted at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times' Janet Maslin rated it a series highlight. The opening sequence looks at the role of the road in Kiwi film. 

Attitude - Rotationplasty: My Backwards Foot

Television, 2014 (Full Length Episode)

In this Attitude episode, 14-year-old Sean Prendeville faces up to a complex and radical surgery: rotationplasty. For the bone cancer survivor the operation involves attaching his lower leg to the hip joint, rotating it and using the ankle as a ‘hinge’ for a prosthetic limb. The programme tracks the nature-mad Sean’s journey, from pre-surgery anxiety to rehab on his backwards right foot/knee; and the things that helped him through: his blue tongue lizard, challenge beads, Mum and family, and design student Jessica Quinn (who underwent the procedure when she was younger).

Two Days to Soft Rock Cafe

Television, 1983 (Full Length)

This Feltex Award-winning documentary dives, abseils and squeezes under the mountain — Mt Arthur in Kahurangi National Park — to record the exploration of the subterranean world of the Nettlebed Cave System. At nearly one kilometre underground the system is New Zealand’s deepest cave, and a mecca for cavers from around the world. The cavers relay their motivations and anxieties as they negotiate the uncharted water-carved limestone labyrinth. Directed by Ian Taylor, it screened in the Lookout series. Claustrophobes beware: there are no lattes at Soft Rock Cafe.

Happy Playland - Series

Web, 2017 (Full Length Episodes)

For their fourth web series, creative collective The Candle Wasters shifted from using the plays of Shakespeare as inspiration, to an original story. Set in a children's indoor adventure playground, Happy Playland is a "queer rom-com musical" where employees cope with crushes, anxiety and life as digital natives. Neenah Dekkers-Reihana and Dani Yourukova (who both acted in Candle Wasters web series Bright Summer Night) play young lovers Billie and Zara. Billie is an agitated actress, while Cris is a social justice warrior. When the playground faces closure, the pair face upheaval. 

Predicament

Film, 2010 (Trailer, Excerpts, and Extras)

Based on a novel by the late Ronald Hugh Morrieson — whose stories painted hometown Taranaki as a hotbed of colourful characters and dodgy dealings — Predicament is a prohibition-era tale of blackmail, anxiety and criminal partnerships. Awkward teen Cedric (Hayden Frost) meets two oddball misfits (played by Conchord Jemaine Clement and Australian comedian Heath 'Chopper' Franklin), and becomes entangled in a plot to blackmail adulterous couples caught in the act. Jason Stutter's film went on to win six Aotearoa Film Awards in 2011.