American-raised, Kiwi based photographer Todd Henry produced this documentary for Vice, after meeting deportee 'Ila Mo'unga while visiting Tonga. Mo'unga was drawn to Henry after hearing his familiar American accent. Tonga is now home to hundreds of deportees — permanent residents of New Zealand, Australia or the United States who committed serious crimes and did jailtime, then were put on a plane to start a new life in an unfamiliar culture. The lucky ones have family land, or a place to stay. But many start from scratch and without institutional support, old bad habits can kick in.
Medicine meets martial arts in this short film from director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets). A resolute surgeon (American-born Chinese actor Marsha Yuan) is forced to break her physician’s oath after gangsters barge into her theatre, and interrupt an operation on a mysterious patient. Kiwi stuntman and actor Jacob Tomuri co-stars as the lead gangster. The bloody action film won attention on the international festival circuit (including the Sundance Film Festival). Soon after Liang signed to direct a feature-length version of the story.
This 2018 feature follows ex gang leader Logan (Josh Calles), who has ditched gang life to raise his daughter. When she is murdered by a rival gang, Logan is forced to choose between vengeance – and all-out gang warfare – or forgiveness. Also starring Dark Horse discovery Wayne Hapi, the Gisborne-shot drama marks the first feature directed by pastor Tarry Mortlock. It is a modern interpretation of a true story about a girl killed by a raiding party in the 1800s. Broken is presented by City Impact Church, although Mortlock says he "never set out to make a Christian movie for Christians".
The Karate Kid meets South Auckland when Fritz (played by Australian-Tongan actor Uli Latukefu) learns the warrior ways of his old Dad, so he can secure the return of his family's treasured pro-wrestling title belt from local gangsters. The Legend of Baron To'a marks the first feature from director Kiel McNaughton, whose credits include Auckland Daze and Find Me a Māori Bride. McNaughton also produced acclaimed films Waru and Vai with his wife Kerry Warkia. The action/comedy boasts a stellar Pasifika/Māori cast, including Jay Laga'aia and Shavaughn Ruakere.
This special episode of the TV stand-up comedy series showcases a newly blonde Cal Wilson and features guests Flight of the Conchords, who spoof small town tourism operators, take office supplies as metaphors for love to absurd lengths, and serve up some overly polite, self censored gangster rap. Wilson's other friends are her own creations. Katie the Chief Bridesmaid's contribution to nuptial disharmony invokes Rowan Atkinson's 'Father of the Bride Speech' by way of Lyn of Tawa, while her "sister" Adele is a painfully earnest feminist poet in a neckbrace.
Tom Gould’s short film documents the life of Martyka ‘Skin’ Brandt — Mongrel Mob gangster, speedway driver and devoted solo father to 10 children (four of his own, six fostered). Brandt was a rare Pākehā who joined the Mob in the 70s. His stereotype-defying life spans escaping from Sunnyside mental institution as a teen, violence and ‘Mongrelism’, then transformation via parenthood. NYC-based Kiwi Gould filmed Skin in Brandt’s Napier home. Skin won international attention as a Vimeo Staff Pick, Short of the Week, and selection in Dazed magazine’s ‘Doc X’ strand.
Misfits of Science was the result of a chance meeting in 2000 in a Queen Street clothing store between Stephen McQuinn (MC Optimus) from Waiuku and South African born Yudhi Moodley (Colossus). Bonding over a shared love of hip hop, they took their name from an obscure 80s sitcom and released their first single ‘Fool’s Love’ in 2003. It reflected their twisted sense of humour and lack of interest in gangster hip hop - and spent four weeks at number one on the singles chart. An album followed but subsequent singles failed to match that initial success.
Mareko, Savage and Alphrisk from Dawn Raid act Deceptikonz offer a rhyme filled hip hop primer in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. Their vision of hip hop has little use for American-style guns and gangster rappers, but fighting with words is another matter and there are tips on the art of writing a battle verse (along with unlikely endorsements for The Discovery Channel and English classes). They also stress the importance of understanding an industry where artists arrive as musicians but need to leave as businessmen.
‘Fool’s Love’ was a chart topping debut for Misfits of Science — Auckland hip hoppers who were determined not to be carbon copy gangster rappers (and possessed of a sense of fun that wouldn’t let them). This song about “people in love with themselves” (complete with Doris Day sample) gets an award-winning (Best Video at the 2004 bNets and Juice TV Awards) treatment from directors Shane Mason and Mark Trethewey. The stock hip hop clichés (cars, booty girls and cash) are present but undermined by those oversized heads and the natural humour of the Misfits.
Crush is a tale of simmering sexuality set in Rotorua. Moral or sexual ambiguity pervades the narrative of conflicted desire. Its mix of blocked-up writer, spurting mud-pools, infatuated teen, eel farm, American femme fatale (Marcia Gay Harden), noir motels, limp pongas and wheelchairs, plays out in a symbolic NZ landscape not seen before (or since). Director Alison Maclean's debut feature (which she co-wrote with Anne Kennedy) played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.