A Deaf Child in the Family

Short Film, 1969 (Full Length)

Winner of multiple awards, this 40 minute film aims to teach families how to manage communication with a deaf child. Narrator Peter Brian guides young families through the steps they can take to ensure their deaf child is able to develop speech and communication as effectively as possible. The documentary includes interviews with two deaf adults living full lives. In an early example of crowdfunding, a sponsorship body was set up to fund A Deaf Child in the Family. It was one of a number of shorts written and directed by Frank Chilton which focussed on people living with disabilities.

See What I Mean

Television, 1992 (Full Length)

See What I Mean is a documentary about people with a hearing impairment, and those who identify as deaf. It tells the stories of a family who were all born deaf, and a journalist who began to lose her hearing in her twenties. It features footage of deaf community events including rugby, an education meeting and socialising at the Deaf Club. This was the documentary that first presented the idea of 'Deaf Culture' on New Zealand television, relating it to protest activities by the American deaf community. The film was directed by Shirley Horrocks (Kiwiana, The New Oceania).

Loading Docs 2018 - Hear Me Out

Web, 2018 (Full Length)

Mojo Mathers was New Zealand's first deaf MP, and faced considerable hurdles just doing her job. In this short documentary from the Loading Docs series, Mathers talks about her time as an MP and her desire to ensure deaf and disabled people can fully engage in democracy in Aotearoa. In 2017 Mathers drafted the Election Access Fund Bill, to provide a contestable fund for those with disabilities who wanted to run for Parliament. In May 2018, Mathers' Bill passed its first reading with unanimous support. Director Jason Boberg has direct experience of disability. 

The Silent One

Film, 1984 (Trailer and Excerpts)

The Silent One is a mythological children's drama about the friendship between a deaf mute boy, Jonasi, and a rare white turtle. The boy's differences lead to suspicion from his Rarotongan village. When the village suffers drought and a devastating storm, the boy and turtle (also considered an ill omen) are blamed and ostracised. Adapted by Ian Mune from a Joy Cowley story, the beloved film was the first New Zealand dramatic feature to be directed by a woman (Yvonne Mackay). In the excerpt here, Jonasi is excluded from a boar hunt and first meets the turtle.

Closer

Short Film, 2004 (Full Length)

Set in a small New Zealand town, Closer is the story of a deaf teenage boy trying to come to terms with the death of his older sister. An emotionally locked-down father who has limited knowledge of sign language compounds his struggle. Written and directed by David Rittey (We The Living), and co-written by poet Therese Lloyd, Closer is a moving portrayal of the power and complexity of silence. Closer won Best Short Film and Best Performance at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards, and was selected to compete for the top short film prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

This is Your Life - Lance Cairns

Television, 1999 (Full Length Episode)

Host Paul Holmes looks back on the life of “the Colin Meads of cricket” — the big hearted, Excalibur-wielding Lance Cairns; although the celebration is just as often of his enthusiastic fondness for the game’s social side. A cavalcade of cricket stars (Chappell, Botham, Lillee, Marsh, Hadlee, Coney, Chatfield, Crowe and son Chris) reminisce — with the remarkable sixes in his innings at Melbourne in 1983 coming in for special attention. Cairns’ profound deafness and the death of his daughter in a level crossing accident provide a more serious note.

Woodville (Episode Two)

Web, 2013 (Full Length Episode)

The tables are turned in the second episode of this online comedy as Sid (Byron Coll) get tongue-tied while being interviewed about being a sexy new doco maker. Sid exhorts his fellow residents to star in a recreation of the town’s battle against a Belgian petrochemical corporation, but actor Molly (Gentiane Lupi) takes direction a bit too enthusiastically. Don Longridge deadpans as deaf Mr Baker, whose fart gag permeates a pair of near wordless scenes with Sid and Bella (Vanessa Stacey). Woodville was selected for London’s Raindance Festival in 2013.

Woodville (Episode Three)

Web, 2013 (Full Length Episode)

In the third episode of this doco about a doco, Byron Coll’s Sid shows visits Uncle Clive (Tim Spite) to ask for a loan, while his gung ho film crew prepares to launch some vigilante justice if the deal doesn’t go through. He shows Clive the dramatic slow-mo trailer, featuring Mr Baker as the king of Belgium and head of the petrochemical company crushed by the small Hawkes Bay town of Woodville. Sid is reacquainted with the lovely aspiring actress Jane (musical comedienne Hayley Sproull) but makes a dodgy impression.

Kaleidoscope - Theo Schoon

Television, 1982 (Full Length)

This 1982 Kaleidoscope report interviews artist Theo Schoon, on his return to New Zealand after a decade in Sydney and Bali. Schoon was a pioneer as a Pākehā engaging with Māori design, melding modernist and Māori motifs (e.g. moko and kowhaiwhai patterns). He discusses his earlier estrangement from the New Zealand art world ("talking to the deaf"), his eight years documenting Māori cave drawings ("art galleries of a sort, art galleries that I'd never been conscious of"), growing and carving gourds, and being inspired by Rotorua’s geothermal activity. Schoon died in 1985. 

Series

Strangers

Television, 1989

The "kids stumble on crims" premise of this kidult thriller series was practically an NZ TV staple in the 80s (Terry and the Gunrunners, The Fire-Raiser); here it's realised with a script by author Margaret Mahy and the director/producer team of Peter Sharp and Chris Bailey (vying with a schedule disrupted by Cyclone Bola). Mahy creates a world of masks, disguises and intrigue for a young cast including Martin Henderson (his screen debut), Hamish McFarlane (fresh from Vincent Ward’s The Navigator), Joel Tobeck (an early role) and deaf seven-year-old Sonia Pivac.