In 1983, after riots in Sri Lanka ushered in an extended civil war, the number of arrivals from Sri Lanka to New Zealand rose dramatically. This episode, one of the most moving in the Immigrant Nation series, profiles two Sri Lankan families down under - one from the island's Sinhalese majority, one from the minority Tamils. Both families left home out of fear for their children's future. Amidst the challenge of a new culture, there is celebration too: including double marriage ceremonies which require multiple outfits, when a Tamal Christian marries a Hindu.
In the show's first visit to Nepal, Shortland Street actor Craig Parker sets off backpacking for the very first time, armed with good advice - to switch off the judgmental Western part of his mind. His destination is a country on the slopes of the Himalayas: half the size of New Zealand, home to 20 languages and 24 million people. Along the way Parker experiences a limb-stretching Nepalese barber, witnesses the funeral pyres at a Hindu temple, and tramps along the Helambu trek, which takes him to the same altitude as Aoraki-Mount Cook.
Filmmaker Stewart Main traverses India seeking enlightenment. There he meets ex-pat Kiwis who seem to have found it, which only leaves him feeling trapped in a life of the senses. Especially when he falls for his Indian sound recordist, Sreenu. Or so he would have us think. Made for TVNZ's Work of Art documentary slot, Main's startling, provocative film explores the cracks between the divine and the sensual, documentary and fiction. Director Andrew Bancroft writes about the result in this backgrounder.
This 1976 documentary examines India’s third Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Her father took office as Prime Minister in 1947, the day India became independent from Britain. Framed around an extended interview with Gandhi, reporter Dairne Shanahan explores India and Indira’s history, and her controversial ‘emergency’ governing of the democracy’s 600 million people. The documentary was directed by Barry Barclay. As this article explains, Shanahan hoped it would be the pilot for a series, but it was never made. In October 1984 Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards.
This Asia Downunder episode is a half-hour special on Asian religions. Two Muslim brothers are interviewed about their faith, followed by a comparison of the Islamic faith with Christianity. The revival of interest in the Catholic church is explored, then the show visits the sikh temple in Manurewa Sikh. Hinduism and Buddhism also feature, while in the kitchen Geeling Ng (Gloss) rustles up some Chicken in Adobo Sauce.
Reality TV host Marc Ellis tones down his laddish antics to present this series on other cultures and beliefs. In this episode he asks "what makes the Hare Krishna tick...what makes them so happy all of the time?". Ellis moves in with a Krishna community in West Auckland, where his strikingly casual guide teaches him what it is to be a Hare Krishna. Late night and early morning dance sessions prove to be less of a struggle than anticipated for Ellis, who seems to fit right in — although the haircut might be a little close, and the proximity of the local pubs a temptation too far.
Although generally regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer, Brian Brake also worked in motion pictures, as both director and cinematographer. At the Government's National Film Unit he directed the first Kiwi film nominated for an Academy Award (Snows of Aorangi). Later he worked for prestigious photo agency Magnum, and featured in photo journals Life and National Geographic.