For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."
This collection showcases Aotearoa Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender screen production. The journey to Shortland Street civil unions, rainbows in Parliament and the Big Gay Out is one of pride, but also one of secrets, shame and discrimination. As Peter Wells writes in this introduction, the titles are testament to a — joyful, defiant — struggle to "fight to exist".
In this intimate documentary painter Michael Smither lays bare his life — from a stern Catholic childhood in New Plymouth to the inspiration of Central Otago to his senior years in Otama Beach, collaborating on natural artworks. Smither is best known for his unflinching portraits of family life, works like 'Sarah with Baked Beans' which capture the untamed energy of small children. Smither acknowledges the hardship behind these famous paintings, and the toll it took on his first marriage. Ex-partners (including novelist Rachel McAlpine) open up about their time with Smither.
Love, annoyance, jealousy...families can be hotbeds of many kinds of emotion. Documentary Some Kind of Love chronicles the contrasts between two very different siblings: artist, theatre designer and rampant hoarder Yolanda Sonnabend, and her brother Joseph, a pioneering AIDS scientist who moves to London to look after Yolanda, as she battles dementia. Filmmaking team Thomas and Sumner Burstyn continue the exploration of family begun in acclaimed 2009 documentary This Way of Life. The result has won invites to film festivals from Vancouver to Auckland.
Dunedin-based painter Jeffrey Harris is profiled in this episode from an early 80s arts series made for TVNZ. Harris talks about his quest for intensity and impact; and how violence both attracts and repulses him. He also discusses two of his influences at the time — the surrounding landscape (particularly the wilds of Otago Peninsula and Seacliffe, and the older parts of Dunedin) and the photographs, ranging from family portraits to newspaper pictures, that provided the figures that populated his expressionistic works.
The first movie written and directed by playwright Anthony McCarten is a portrait of a family melting down under the media spotlight. The comedy/drama stars Danielle Cormack in two roles — as a swimmer on the cusp of Olympic glory, and as the twin sister back home, looking on as her family descends into spats and bickering as they find the pressure to perform too much to bear. Via Satellite showcases a topline cast, including Tim Balme, Rima Te Wiata, and a scene-stealing and heavily-pregnant Jodie Dorday, who won an NZ TV and Film Award for her work.
Journalist Kim Webby's Price of Peace is a portrait of Tūhoe activist Tame Iti, whose family Webby has known for 20 plus years. After the 2007 police raids, Iti was one of four to go on trial, accused of plotting terrorist activities. Webby’s film ranges widely from early land grievances to modern-day jail cells — and a police apology. NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder praised the result for balancing a personal focus on Iti, with “a powerfully affecting” examination of the 2007 raids, which placed the raids in "the wider context of Tūhoe history and the process of reconciliation”.
This half-hour portrait of actor and director Ian Mune kicks off at a family wedding. In-between clips illustrating his career, Mune reflects on life as a storyteller, "bullshitter" and goat farmer. He reveals his adaptation process, his loss of confidence after directing Bridge to Nowhere, and how had no idea what he was doing on Sleeping Dogs. He also warns of the dangers of being boring, and the challenges of pulling off a decent commercial. Two years after this documentary aired, Mune returned to glory with the release of his passion project The End of the Golden Weather.
In this interview publicising 1996 comedy The Birdcage, Robin Williams turns his humour settings to a surprisingly low level. Quizzed on matters political by Holmes reporter Ewart Barnsley, Williams argues that politically correct people can display the “same kind of repressive tendencies” as others, and admits that the portrait of homosexual parents in the Mike Nichols-directed comedy could be offensive to both gays and straights. But, he adds, the majority of viewers "go and laugh their ass off and find some common ground and humanity in it”.
This series of portraits of Māori kaumatua, by Toby Mills and Moana Maniapoto, won Best Māori Programme at the 2000 NZ TV Awards. In this first episode, Kaa Rakaupai reminisces about catching crayfish with socks; master carver Paki Harrison spurns his family to follow his ambitions; Tawhao 'Bronco' Tioke's grandfather was jailed with prophet Rua Kenana; and Joan Mohi muses on being Pākehā and Māori. The millennial morehu ('survivors') talk of hopes for tamariki, and lament lost traditions — but not the bad old schooldays when they were forbidden to speak te reo.