The decade of fondue and flares also cooked up colour television. Our black and white living room icons — from Selwyn Toogood to Space Waltz — melted into a Kiwi kaleidoscope of Top Town, Grunt Machine, and Close to Home. And 'our stories' and rights fights — boks, hikoi, nukes and 'nam — echoed onscreen (Sleeping Dogs, Tangata Whenua). Ready to roll?
Written by Fiona Samuel (Marching Girls, Bliss, Home Movie) and produced by Ginette McDonald for television’s Montana Sunday Theatre, Face Value is a trilogy of monologues delivered by three separate women. While each woman’s story and background are vastly different, they are all united by their shared quest to find happiness amidst personal trauma. In A Real Dog, Carol Smith’s performance is spot-on as Lynette, a conflicted new-age hippie who struggles to recreate harmony when a new flatmate (and her estranged boyfriend) moves in.
Love, Speed and Loss is an extended documentary about racer Kim Newcombe, who turned heads in the 1970s on a König motorbike he developed and designed himself. Built around home movie footage and interviews with his charismatic, straight-talking widow Janeen, the film charts the couple's travels in Europe, and triumph on the track. Newcombe was killed racing in 1973, and posthumously finished second in that year's World 500cc Championship. Love, Speed and Loss won best documentary at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards and three Air NZ Screen gongs.
In the Nature of Things saw Christchurch teacher Ron Walton deliver science lessons to children. Along with The Night Sky’s Peter Read, Walton made made science pop. The pair were two of NZ’s best known broadcasting personalities of the era, fondly remembered by a generation of Kiwi kids, as well as overseas viewers (Things was a rare NZBC title that sold to the US and other territories). From a (gentler) time well before the pyrotechnics of MythBusters, here Walton — armed with just a pointer, chart and elemental props — puts vitamins under the microscope.
Awkward Auckland love stories abound in this web series about four 20-something female friends. Holly Shervey (Shortland Street) plays Alice, who turns to dating app Tinder after her boyfriend (Dean O'Gorman) dumps her. Alice's flatmates — the hard-drinking Vicky (Lucinda Hare) and hippie Grace (Jess Holly Bates), plus promiscuous friend Zoe (Jess Sayer) — fail at their own love lives, but always have each other's backs. Shot on a low budget of just under $5,000, series one was selected for several global film festivals. Shervey based it on her own dating experiences.
Joan Daniel was excited to learn she was going overseas as a volunteer nurse in World War II — her mother less so. But it was the beginning of a three year adventure for Joan, as she recounts in this interview. First it took her to Egypt. The cases there were mainly related to ordinary illnesses, and there was time for sightseeing and fun too. Tragedy struck though, when three nurses were killed in a traffic accident. From the Middle East she was sent to Italy and a hospital close to Cassino. The patients now were casualties of war: the wounded, the shell-shocked and the dying.
Made for the National Heart Foundation, this 1970 documentary shows “a rehabilitation programme for patients with coronary heart disease”, devised by Otago University Medical School and the NZ School of Physiotherapy. The film is framed around a doctor addressing a class of nursing students, and follows a “coronary club” of patients through PE rehab to being able to work, garden and play golf again. The film also imparts general health lessons to avoid heart disease (exercise, quit smoking, lose weight). It was made by the National Film Unit.
Years before it became a national health crisis, star UK broadcaster David Frost hosted this audience discussion on NZ’s “battle of the bulge”. And far from his later interrogation of Nixon, Frost’s form here is loose and relaxed. Analysis makes way for his wry examinations of such du jour weight-loss products as portable saunas, laxative pills, “Easy-Slim” underwear, and the Slendermatic: a muscle vibration unit modelled by a bikini-clad lass reclining on a sheepskin rug. This was one of six Frost Over New Zealand specials filmed over a whirlwind four-day shoot.
Our Small World is a portrait of life on an atoll in Tokelau — on Fale, an island so small, the schoolhouse had to be built on the next island, and the pigs live on the reef. Narrated by Tokelau-born Ioane Puka on a return visit, the film examines old traditions meeting pressures from the outside world, an emphasis on self-sufficiency and togetherness, and worries over education and a declining, youth-heavy population. Key decisions are made by a group of male elders, although after initial doubts, they have accepted a woman police officer.
Director John Laing followed acclaimed romance Other Halves with an equally stylish but very different big city tale: a thriller in which three orphans plan an international heist to avenge the killing of one of their fathers. The expected diet of shootings, skulduggery and globetrotting accents is enlived by side trips to Geneva, songs from romantic interest Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and a cast of villains to die for (Peter Bland, Ian Mune, Anzac Wallace, Grant Tilly). When Dangerous Orphans was sold in Europe it set an early record for a New Zealand film.