Gung Ho - Rewi Alley of China

Film, 1980 (Full Length)

Expat Kiwi Rewi Alley became one of the best known foreigners in 20th Century China and advocate for the Communist Revolution. When China was under siege from Japan in the late 1930s, Alley instigated an industrial co-op movement he termed  ‘gung ho' (work together). Its success led to the phrase entering the global idiom. For this documentary a Geoff Steven-led crew travelled 15,000km in China in 1979, filming Alley as he gave his account of an engrossing, complex life story. Co-writer Geoff Chapple later wrote a biography of Alley.

Kaleidoscope - China Ballet: A Week in Beijing, A Bit Less in Shanghai

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

TVNZ’s 80s arts programme follows a Royal NZ Ballet visit to China in this documentary directed by Keith Hunter. The trip is billed as a cultural exchange but the term belies the stresses of missing equipment, a director who has lost his voice, language barriers, incorporating a local seven-year-old girl into their performance and, for some, the dishes at a banquet. On a rare day off, there’s a chance to marvel at the scale of the The Great Wall; and there are insights into the everyday lives of the Chinese people as the country begins to open itself up to the world.

Intrepid Journeys - China (Katie Wolfe)

Television, 2004 (Full Length Episode)

In this full-length Intrepid Journey actor/director Katie Wolfe takes her "appalling sense of direction" to China, a country caught between old ways and new. Wolfe travels by plane, boat, cyclo and train, which she calls "the perfect way to travel". She does three days in the Blade Runner-like cityscapes of Shanghai, where she meets an 86-year-old dancer, and visits the Forbidden City of Beijing. Wolfe also heads up the Yangtze River, visiting ghostly cities and apartment blocks, drained of people by major dam construction — before stumbling upon a most effective way to haggle.

Diamonds on China

The Narcs, Music Video, 1985

This follow-up to 1984 Narcs hit ‘Heart and Soul’ marked the first single off the trio’s second album. Recorded with US engineer Tim Kramer, 'Diamonds on China' got to 15 on the New Zealand charts. Influenced by Brit pop band Go West, 'Diamonds' is full of punchy guitar and synthesizers. Prolific music video director Fane Flaws showcases massed horns, street racing video games, his own distinctive illustrations, and drumsticks hitting the skins "like diamonds on china". Flaws' efforts resulted in one of his first accolades: Video of the Year at the 1985 NZ Music Awards.

The Red House

Film, 2012 (Trailer)

Director Alyx Duncan set out to make an experimental documentary about her childhood home. What eventually resulted was this acclaimed and award-winning "fictional essay", her first full length feature. Blurring the line between documentary and drama, she cast her conservationist father and Chinese born step-mother as characters partially based on themselves. As they journey from a small NZ island to a big Chinese city, Duncan examines their cross cultural relationship and explores nostalgia, childhood, dreams, environmentalism, globalisation and the meaning of home.

The Humble Force

Television, 1980 (Full Length)

Filmed on a 15,000 km journey through China in 1979, this documentary captures a country in transition: one where billboards are emerging on the streets of Shanghai, while commune workers still toil in the countryside. The film compiles images of people and landscape to observe China's then-recent emergence from the repressive Cultural Revolution; including memories from long-term resident, Kiwi Rewi Alley. Named after a description by Alley of China, it was made alongside companion documentary: Gung Ho: Rewi Alley of China.   

Over the Sea and Near Away

Short Film, 1966 (Full Length)

Sponsored by the Crusader Shipping Company, this 1966 National Film Unit production joins one of the firm's ships as it transports NZ products from Auckland to Asia — home to “one quarter of the human race, 900 million customers”. As milk powder, wool, mutton, apples, cheese and deer antlers are delivered to ports in the Philippines, China, Japan, and Hong Kong, director Ron Bowie observes cultural difference and economic opportunity; and a “westernising” Orient is beautifully captured by Kell Fowler. The NFU crew were rare foreign observers in Chairman Mao’s China.  

Kia Ora Ni Hao - Episode Three

Television, 2008 (Full Length Episode)

This six-part Māori Television series documents the experiences of six Māori language students from around the country, on a three-week cultural field trip to Beijing, China. The teenagers take their own cameras to record their experiences. They attend a local high school, live with Chinese families, and take in the local sites and sounds. The series is in Te Reo Māori, with English sub-titles. In this episode, the students check out the food markets, learn about Chinese sports, and visit the Great Wall of China.

Taste Takes Off - Beijing

Television, 2005 (Excerpts)

In her second series of culinary globetrotting, chef and author Peta Mathias visits Beijing to explore the food of Northern China. She finds a cuisine shaped by harsh winters and scorching summers — and influenced by Mongol invaders and centuries of imperial dynasties (but Mao’s heyday is only glimpsed in a theme restaurant run by an American). A night market offers delicacies including locusts, scorpions, cockroaches and silkworms, and Peta investigates Peking Duck, the ubiquitous dumplings and just a few of the ways that duck eggs can be preserved.

Blue Willow

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Veialu Aila-Unsworth directs this re-imagining of the ubiquitous blue and white ‘willow china’ ceramic pattern (designed by Thomas Minton in the late 18th Century). Aila-Unsworth’s exquisite animation uses the design as a tableau for a tragic tale. It tells the story — supposedly derived from an ancient Chinese folktale — of lovers fleeing an angry father. The doomed pair are ultimately transformed into birds by the gods, finally escaping from oppression ... and bangers and mash. Blue Willow was selected for the Berlin Film Festival (Kinderfest section).