Arm yourself with jaffas and get set for debate: NZ On Screen has gone out on a limb and selected an all-time NZ feature film Top 10. Starring the icons of the Kiwi big screen — Blondini, Ada, Beth, Boy. Whet your appetite for our finest features via choice 10-minute excerpts of the movies. Cook the man some eggs, we're taking this Top 10 to Invercargill!
Month by month, this collection offers up NZ On Screen's most viewed clips for 2016. Alongside legendary adverts, the clips collection features talents lost to us over the year, from Ray Columbus to Martin Crowe and Bowie (via Flight of the Conchords). In this backgrounder, NZ On Screen Content Director Kathryn Quirk guides us through the list.
Open Door is a community-based television series that allows groups or individuals to apply to make a documentary about an issue that concerns them. This programme is about the charitable trust Sweet Louise, established in 2005 to provide practical and psychological support to New Zealand women with secondary breast cancer. Sweet Louise was set up by the family of Auckland woman Louise Perkins, who died at the age of 39 after battling breast cancer for 10 years.
The first episode of Jam TV’s 2013 series on inspirational Kiwis follows Helena McAlpine’s journey as she deals with terminal breast cancer. The ebullient spirit of the ex-C4 presenter permeates the episode, as she talks about her mental health struggles, her bucket list, living in the fast line, fishing with mate Clarke Gayford, leaving her daughter without a mum, advocacy work for cancer awareness campaigns, and the ‘McAlpine theory on life’ — choose to be happy. “I really don’t see myself as a sack of sadness”. McAlpine died on 23 September 2015.
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).
Tele-movie Clare is based on Clare Matheson's autobiographical book Fate Cries Enough. It recreates the experiences of the author (played here by Robyn Malcolm, then fresh from Shortland Street) who for 15 years was an unwitting part of a disastrous gynaecological study at Auckland's National Women's Hospital. The study would later become known as ‘The Unfortunate Experiment', after a Metro article by Sandra Coney and Phillida Bunkle. It was also the subject of a Commission of Inquiry, whose official report led to major changes in law around health consumers' rights.
Shot on the run in 1998, My Name is Jane is built around the biggest deadline a filmmaker could face: the death of its subject. With a history of cancer in her family, musician and cancer sufferer Jane Devine proposed a film to director Amanda Robertshawe: one in which the personable Devine takes us through the process of making peace with her own passing — and the impossible task of preparing a son for life without her. The resulting documentary, surely among our most affecting hours of television, won repeat screenings and international plaudits.
Featuring cameos from numerous softball legends (including the late Kevin Herlihy), Strike Zone is a love-letter to the game from director and NZ under-16 pitcher Cameron Duncan. Duncan stars as a dying coach trying to motivate his team to win a key game. The messages of teamwork and not giving up are made more poignant by the many real-life parallels: during filming torrential rain turned the diamond into a quagmire, and Strike Zone's teen director, himself stricken by cancer, almost died on set, before going on to compere the film's premiere.
In March 2015 teenager Pixie Hannah (Thomasin McKenzie) arrived on Shortland Street, and after initial clashes with Harry Warner, began dating him. Reid Walker, who plays Harry, talks about the "bittersweet" storyline involving Pixie and her death, calling it the favourite story he’s been part of. Pixie was diagnosed with cancer; her immune system weakened after chemotherapy, she contracted pneumonia after rescuing Harry from a river. Reuben Milner, who plays Pixie’s brother Jack, also discusses the Pixie storyline. The second clip shows him joining the haka at her funeral.
Featuring a rare star turn by stand-up comedian Raybon Kan (who also co-wrote the script), Diagnosis: Death is a genre-stretching tale of oddball nurses, haunted hospitals and bedside romance. Kan plays a cynical teacher sharing a hospital ward with a young student (Jessica Grace Smith), after both are diagnosed with cancer. Trapped in the ward during an experimental drug trial, the duo investigate a strange case of haunting. Shot specifically for DVD, Jason Stutter's second feature also features cameos by Conchords Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, and Rhys Darby.