Filmed in France, Belgium and New Zealand, The Vintner's Luck (aka A Heavenly Vintage) is a tale of growing grapes and meeting angels. Belgian actor Jeremie Renier (L'Enfant) stars as Sobran, a poor winemaker who one day encounters an angel. The two make a pact. One day each year, as Sobran's fortunes wax and wane, the angel returns to hear more about Sobran's life. Director Niki Caro adapted Elizabeth Knox's bestselling novel with help from US script consultant Joan Scheckel; the film also reunites Caro with Whale Rider discovery Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays Sobran's wife.
Paul Leach was the man behind the camera on many classic Kiwi films; author Duncan Petrie described him as New Zealand's "camera operator of choice". His CV spanned landmark titles Sleeping Dogs, Utu, Smash Palace, and breakthrough comedy Came a Hot Friday. He passed away on 10 April 2010.
A documentary about author Janet Frame based on the eponymous biography by Michael King. It travels through the familiar Frame themes - her alleged mental illness, family tragedies, overseas stays, how she began writing. Its value, and fresh insight, lies in the interviews with Frame's close friends and key figures in her life. They shed light on her personality and achievements. King in particular provides a considered, often-amusing account of Frame's life. This was his last interview for film; he was killed in a car accident in 2004.
Eight years after her TV debut on sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won global fame as the star of Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest star on everything from The Simpsons to bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has acted in New Zealand and the United States, including as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.
Although Ginette McDonald's career is most associated with the gormless, vowel-mangling girl-from-the-suburbs: Lynn of Tawa, she is a woman of many parts. Alongside an extensive acting and presenting career, her work as producer and director spans three decades, and includes Shark in the Park, Peppermint Twist, and kidult series The Fire-Raiser.
Elam graduate Paul Swadel showed his eye for the artistic and the eyecatching both in his own award-winning work as a director — short films, arts programmes (Colin McCahon: I Am), commercials — and as producer: through collaborations with animator James Cunningham and on digi-feature incubator Headstrong. Swadel died in March 2016.
Actor and vocal teacher Sylvia Rands’ first big television role was playing Polly Hanlon, wife to the legendary barrister in Hanlon. Nominated again for movie Bonjour Timothy, Rands has gone on to act in Go Girls, Homeward Bound and cult comedy The Neighbourhood Network, inbetween a busy stage career.
With a CV that includes everything from judges to Amazon queens, Alison Bruce has often been cast as the strong unsmiling type. Yet two of her biggest screen roles completely break that mould: the fraudulent but well-meaning fortune teller in 2001 feature Magik and Rose, and the eccentric mother in award-winning series Being Eve.
Ruth Harley has been a leader and change agent across 30 years in the screen industry. She was commissioning editor at TVNZ, then the first Executive Director of NZ On Air. From 1997 she spent a decade as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, then crossed the Tasman to head the newly created Screen Australia for five years. In 1997 Harley was awarded an OBE, and in 2006 was named a CNZM.
Julienne Stretton spent three decades documenting NZ people and culture for TV, as a researcher, producer and director. Her subjects have ranged from Katherine Mansfield and Hollywood actor Nola Luxford, to a young disabled couple in the groundbreaking Miles and Shelly documentaries. She researched major documentaries on Moriori and Gallipoli, and shared a 1992 Qantas Award for 60 Minutes.