After tackling documentaries about sporting legends and surveillance, Kiwi director Justin Pemberton (Chasing Great) began his most ambitious project yet. Inspired by the brick-sized bestseller by French economist Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century examines the disproportionate amount of cash and power wielded by a small global minority. The French-Kiwi co-production blends talking heads (including Piketty and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz) and pop culture imagery of the rich and famous. Jean-Benoît Dunckel (from French duo Air) supplies the music.
This headline-grabbing 1979 documentary examines inequality via interviews with an unemployed student, a young widow and a Porirua family of eight; plus visits to a Fijian village and a Hong Kong housing estate. The film's arguments that business and government monopolies had caused poverty in “egalitarian New Zealand”, and that NZ trade practices had added to it elsewhere, displeased Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. State television refused to screen the Greg Stitt-directed documentary; CORSO, the charity who commissioned it, was removed from the government’s funding list.
After learning the ropes making short films and music videos, ex-soldier Matthew Metcalfe has made films in Antarctica and Iraq, and produced movies and TV movies with partners in Canada (Nemesis Game), England (Dean Spanley) and France (Capital in the 21st Century). His projects range from tutus (ballet feature Giselle) to war (animated film 25 April).
Before he achieved worldwide fame as an actor, Sam Neill directed documentary films for the National Film Unit. This film examines the philosophy, early achievements and frustrations of one of New Zealand's most innovative architects, Ian Athfield. Athfield won an international competition in 1975 to design housing for 140,000 squatters in Manila, in the Philippines, yet struggled to gain recognition back home. This film culminates in Athfield's trip to the Philippines to pursue the project. Shooter John Toon later memorably shot feature film Rain.
Gaylene Preston has been making feature films and documentaries with a distinctive New Zealand flavour and a strong social message for over 30 years. In 2001 she was the first filmmaker to be made a Laureate by the Arts Foundation, recognising her contribution to New Zealand film and television.