In this 1971 film pianist Barry Margan ‘humps’ his grand piano around NZ, on a mission to bring classical piano to places where it might not typically be heard. Aiming to break down barriers to enjoying live chamber music, Margan plays his pop-up piano (including Douglas Lilburn’s ‘Sonatina’) at coffee bars, libraries and art galleries. The trailer-borne grand is not easy to set up, but the audiences (from soldiers to children) are willing. Narrated by Margan, this was the last film in the National Film Unit's three decade-spanning Pictorial Parade magazine series.
Ada (Holly Hunter) has been mute since she was six. She travels from Scotland with her daughter (Anna Paquin) and her grand piano to colonial New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. When her husband, a stoic settler (Sam Neill) sells the piano to Baines (Harvey Keitel), Ada and Baines come to a secret agreement. She can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. An especially big hit in Europe, Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush is the only NZ film to have won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival.
The clip for this single off Brooke Fraser’s seven time platinum selling album debut What to do with Daylight works from a simple concept. Accompanied by a string quartet, Fraser sings sweetly from behind a grand piano in an empty studio. Most distinctive however is the clip's liberal use of fairy lights, which cover the studio wall, the piano and the string quartet. This abundance didn’t go unnoticed: children's show Studio 2 gave Arithmetic the (satirical) award for “most use of fairy lights in a video clip”. The song reached number eight on the New Zealand Singles Chart.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the multi-talented Dave Fraser brought his multiple musical talents to score everything from features and National Film Unit documentaries to television dramas and commercials. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-215042-F (Detail)
This stylishly high camp melodrama from directors Stewart Main and Peter Wells won acclaim, after debuting at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. In the imaginary 19th-century town of Hope, draper Dorothea Brooks (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) is desperate to save her sister from the clutches of opium, sex and the dastardly Fraser. She begs hunky migrant Lawrence Hayes to help; but complications ensue. Inspired partly by 1930s and 40s Hollywood melodramas, Desperate Remedies was sumptously shot by Leon Narbey (Whale Rider). Richard King writes about the film here.
Terry Gray composed and arranged music for dramas, variety shows, dance legend Gene Kelly and the Commonwealth Games. Along the way, his work included everything from the iconic 'We are the Boys' Chesdale commercial to a gold-selling CD.
John Carlaw's directing career spanned four decades. During 23 years in England, he directed for the BBC and Channel 4, and on high profile ITV arts slot The South Bank Show. Shortly before starting over in New Zealand, Carlaw was nominated for a Cable Television award for Edgar Allen Poe adaptation The Tell-Tale Heart, starring stage legend Steven Berkoff. Carlaw's Kiwi work was almost exclusively in documentary, including docos on Michael King and Ian Mune. He won more awards for Edmund Hillary series View from the Top and Revolution, which chronicled the Rogernomics era. Carlaw passed away on 29 May 2017.
Cliff Curtis alternates a busy diet of acting in the United States (where he's forged a reputation as the actor to call on, for roles of varied ethnicity) with smaller scale New Zealand projects — including co-producing Taika Waititi smash Boy. His CV of Kiwi classics includes playing Pai's father in Whale Rider, Uncle Bully on Once Were Warriors, and bipolar chess champion Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse.
Ian Fraser made his name in the late 70s as one of New Zealand’s most respected interviewers, facing off against everyone from Robert Muldoon to the Shah of Iran. In 2002, after time spent in public relations and as head of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Television New Zealand — this time as its chief executive.
If director and producer Peter Coates was a superhero, he’d surely be ‘Renaissance Man’. His contribution to championing the arts on television is arguably heroic, and his career multi-faceted. From 1971 to 2004 Coates produced, directed or scripted hundreds of TV productions covering a smorgasbord of topics, from operas to soap operas, and from portraits of New Zealand artists to rugby coaching films.