Seventeen-year-old Timothy (Dean O'Gorman from Pork Pie) is facing suspension after a misguided prank. His parents hope the French-Canadian exchange student they’re hosting will settle Tim down, but when ‘Michel’ turns out to be ‘Michelle’ — and spunky — plans go awry. Coming of age and cross-cultural comedy ensues as Tim tries to court his Montreal mademoiselle. Shot around Avondale College, the award-winning NZ-Canadian film got a special mention from the Children’s Jury at the 1996 Berlin Film Festival. The cast includes Angela Bloomfield and Milan Borich.
Dean O’Gorman starred in his first movie (Bonjour Timothy) at the age of only 17. Since then he has had leading roles in another four, including a 2017 remake of classic road movie Goodbye Pork Pie. En route O'Gorman has played dwarves (The Hobbit), jealous brothers (The Bad Seed), American movie legends (Trumbo) and Norse gods (The Almighty Johnsons).
Wayne Tourell is a prime contender for having the longest CV of any director in local television. Tourell began as an actor and presenter. The multiple Feltex award-winner has gone on to direct documentaries (Landmarks, Moriori), drink driving campaigns, teen movie Bonjour Timothy — not to mention episodes of Mortimer’s Patch, Shortland Street, Gloss and his beloved legal drama Hanlon.
After a young woman (Denise Maunder) falls pregnant, she decides to go against the tide of advice from her family and unsympathetic welfare authorities by keeping her baby. Misery and hardship ensues. Director Paul Maunder brought kitchen sink drama to NZ television with this controversial National Film Unit production. The story can claim to have effected social change, stirring up public debate about the DPB for single mothers. Keep an eye out for a young Paul Holmes as a wannabe lothario. Maunder writes about making it in this piece. Costa Botes writes about it here.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first New Zealand feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised drama Sylvia, based on teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of 1985's best films. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.
Tangata Whenua, A State of Siege, Utu, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth, Illustrious Energy...The resume of soundman turned producer Don Reynolds covers the modern renaissance of New Zealand film. After starting his own sound companies, Reynolds has gone on to production roles in New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
By 2001 Russell Crowe was an international star, thanks to award-winning performances in The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Born in New Zealand and raised on both sides of the Tasman, the Oscar winner continues to act in feature films, and in 2014 made his movie directing debut with Aussie hit The Water Diviner. Once known as Auckland singer Russ le Roq, Crowe also sings in band The Ordinary Fear of God.