This National Film Unit film follows Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ernest Rutherford, from farm boy in the Marlborough Sounds to leading Cambridge University's legendary Cavendish Laboratory. Described by Einstein as "a second Newton", Rutherford was one of the founders of modern atomic physics. Director David Sims pays special attention to Rutherford's colonial upbringing and education, and how it encouraged him to experiment. The atom-splitter famously said of Kiwi ingenuity, "we don't have the money, so we have to think". Rutherford is voiced by actor Grant Tilly.
In his matter-of-fact way, James Murray reflects on some of the horrors of the War in the Pacific. Joining the New Zealand Navy at 17, Murray found himself aboard an American destroyer, watching the first atomic bomb explode above Hiroshima. “We thought they’d blown up Japan,” he says. Earlier, aboard HMNZS Gambia, he’d watched Japanese kamikaze planes attempting to sink the aircraft carriers his ship was trying to protect. Later he was among the first to land on the Japanese mainland, helping take control of the Yokosuka Naval Base.
Paul Callaghan (1947 - 2012) was an internationally celebrated scientist, and a passionate advocate for Aotearoa. He was a popular science communicator (including a radio show with Kim Hill), campaigned to make New Zealand “a place where talent wants to live”, and championed the idea of a predator-free New Zealand. Shirley Horrocks' documentary focuses on the field that Callaghan became a world expert in — magnetic resonance — and interviews Callaghan's family, colleagues, students and friends. The film was invited to play at the 2018 NZ International Film Festival.
This 1995 documentary comprehensively plots New Zealand's progress from enthusiastic supporter of the atomic bomb in the 1940s to becoming proudly nuclear free by the late 1980s. The birthplace of "father of the atom" Ernest Rutherford willingly participated in British tests at Christmas Island in the 1950s (and looked eagerly for uranium in the Buller Gorge). But as testing increased in the Pacific, Prime Ministers Holyoake, Kirk and Lange voiced opposition. Moruroa, nuclear ship visit protests and the Rainbow Warrior bombing fuelled the anti-nuclear cause.
Actor Ashleigh Seagar first appeared on-screen in 1994, playing a pregnant teenager on long-running soap Shortland Street. Five years later she hit the big screen as the young student caught up in dark doings in hit movie Scarfies.
Joel Haines has composed screen music for over two decades, including soundtracks for TV shows Outrageous Fortune, Westside, The Brokenwood Mysteries and Mercy Peak— plus movies This Way of Life and After the Waterfall. Haines has also created themes for dozens of high profile brands (Air New Zealand, McDonald's), and channel music for TV2, Māori Television, and Sky Sports.
Chinese-Kiwi Roseanne Liang first made a splash with 2005 documentary Banana in a Nutshell, based on her own romance with a European Kiwi. Later she turned her experiences into acclaimed big screen rom-com My Wedding and Other Secrets. After making five seasons of web series Flat3/Friday Night Bites, Liang was confirmed to direct a feature-length version of her high profile action short, Do No Harm.
Between getting his start in filmmaking with the National Film Unit, and returning to New Zealand to retire, John Feeney made his name as a director at the National Film Board of Canada; he also spent 40 years filming and photographing in Egypt. Some of his NFU films were considered to be outstanding documentaries, and two of his Canadian films were nominated for Academy Awards.
Northern Ireland-born Katrina Devine moved down under at the age of six. She joined Shortland Street in 1994; over eight years her character of Minnie Crozier transformed from gawky teen to clinic receptionist, sometime singer and longtime survivor. Since then Devine has played both villain and school reporter on Power Rangers, co-edited teen magazine Creme, and acted in Canadian horror movie Left for Dead.
If the measure of success for a casting director is the subsequent success of the actors they pluck from the crowd, then Diana Rowan has certainly done time at the top of her field. She is the casting director who helped Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Kerry Fox and Lucy Lawless on their way to international careers, while developing her own talents as a writer and director of short films.