Though it plays hell with cameras, Antarctica has long fascinated filmmakers. This hour-long National Film Unit documentary was assembled from a five-part TV series of the same name. There are looks at scientific research, early explorers, and Antarctica's affect on global climate. Made four decades ago, the programme warns of a possible "new and potentially dangerous warming period", and calls the greenhouse effect a "controversial scientific theory". The large cast includes penguins, a seal birth (clip two) and a heavyweight team of Kiwi scientists.
After being fired from his first New Zealand film Under the Southern Cross in the late 1920s, American director Alexander Markey returned to make Hei Tiki. Following a sometimes tense shoot, mostly around Taupō, he departed Aotearoa, leaving badwill and fears he'd stolen a number of taonga in his wake. Inspired partly by Māori legend, Hei Tiki sank quickly when finally released in 1935. This documentary features extensive clips from the movie, plus interviews with surviving cast and crew — including co-star Ben Biddle, and pioneering cameraman Ted Coubray.
Cannes is the town in France where Bergman meets bikinis, and the art of filmmaking meets the art of the deal. In 1975, a group of expat Kiwis managed to score interviews with some of the festival's emerging talents, indulging their own cinematic dreams in the process. Werner Herzog waxes lyrical on the trials and scars of directing; a boyish Steven Spielberg recalls the challenges of framing shots during Jaws; Martin Scorsese and Dustin Hoffman talk a gallon. Six years later interviewer Michael Heath's debut script The Scarecrow would be invited to Cannes.
Bill Morrison is a man on a mission. His wife and child can't walk nearly as fast. As the trio head toward the mining settlement where a new job awaits, Bill is about to react in different ways to two very different surprises — one from his wife, and one at the mine. This half-hour drama from the Winners & Losers series is based on a Maurice Shadbolt story, which later fed into Shadbolt's decade-in-the-making novel Strangers and Journeys. Singer turned advertising veteran Clyde Scott plays Bill. Actor and public speaking expert Jane Thomas John plays the nameless, long-suffering wife.
The final episode of Chris Stapp and Matt Heath's bawdy, bogan, BSA baiting TV variety series spoof opens with a tribute to "People's Presenter" Danny Parker who was a victim of the previous episode's carnage. Show regular Piers Graham looks behind the scenes at the show's imagined past (including 60s exploitation pic 'Datura Flowers of the Garden of Death') and the real injuries sustained by cast members in the show's stunts; and hapless mechanic Spanners Watson get his chance to assume daredevil stuntman Randy Campbell's hopeless mantle.
Awash with off-kilter angles and some highly unusual noises, The Hole centres around a man and a woman who react in very different ways to the unexpected. Dean (Scott Wills from Apron Strings) and Jenny (Magik and Rose’s Nicola Murphy) are digging a well when Jenny hears voices from the bottom of the hole. The irascible Dean starts thinking about exploitation; Jenny thinks about helping. Inspired by a tale told by his grandmother, Brian Challis’ first film was invited to the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, plus more than a dozen others.
In 2002, musician Moana Maniapoto was prevented from using her first name to market herself in Germany because it was copyrighted by someone else. That bewildering experience prompted this award-winning doco made with partner Toby Mills. It explores wider issues of commercial exploitation of 'exotic' indigenous cultures by global companies — a vexed area which Western intellectual property law seems ill-equipped to deal with. There are case studies of the good, the bad and the ugly over usage by brands including Lego, the All Blacks, Ford, Moontide and Playstation.
The fierce cold and awesome isolation of Antarctica is evoked in this 1980 NFU survey of scientific projects and life on New Zealand’s Ross Dependency. Geological and wildlife work is counterpointed by domestic details: a “housewifely” cleaning regime, an impressive liquor order, time-marking beards, and radio chatter at odds with the desolation. There’s poignant footage of one of the last sightseeing flights before the Erebus disaster; and the doco grapples with the uneasy possibility that research may lead to exploitation of the continent’s natural resources.
Coming on like a 1970s exploitation film, this video sees The Sagittarian (aka Shae Sterling) pounding the streets of Bangkok in a white suit and sunglasses. While on the hunt for a mysterious quarry, he encounters guns, breakdancing monks and some spectacular scenery. Fellow musician and filmmaker Mikey Rockwell, who features on the track, adds a touch of comedy in the finale. The video won a Knack Award at the 2007 Kodak Fringe Awards. After Sterling starred in this, he went on to direct videos for many other musicians, including Stan Walker and Maisey Rika.
This 1955 film looks at the “savage” geology of the North Island volcanic region, and its human settlement. Te Arawa myth introduces the steaming valleys of volcano and quake god Rūaumoko. The film then surveys geothermal activity and its exploitation by Māori and Pākehā, from cooking to heating hospital radiators. It ends with a dramatic geyser display in front of tourists. Guide Rangi cameos. It screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and was John Feeney’s last National Film Unit gig before directing Oscar-nominated films for the National Film Board of Canada.