The late 60s saw globetrotting filmmaker Tony Williams shoot and edit two films for Iranian director Mahmoud Khosrowshahi. Here Williams chronicles an east meets west festival held in the Iranian city of Shiraz. Williams’ love affair with music and montage helps lend pace and life to a film whose sonic interests range from Iranian lutes and Indian oboes to American Cathy Berberian, who is busy turning comic strips into song. A glimpse of cosmopolitan Iran prior to the Iranian Revolution, it includes a rare interview with New Yorker classical music critic Andrew Porter.
Toa Fraser's second English-set film (following 2008's quirky drama Dean Spanley) dramatises a real life siege at the Iranian Embassy in London, when gunmen held 26 people hostage in April 1980. Fraser and Dead Lands writer Glenn Standring take many angles on the tense six day siege: from politicians favouring a more aggressive approach than their lead negotiator, to the SAS team ready to storm the building, to BBC reporter Kate Adie (Bright Star's Abbie Cornish) covering events live on television. The film's international sales included a deal with Netflix.
This BBC2-screened film is a look at the European art world of the late 1960s, and a meditation on the nature of art and the pricing of art, shot by Tony Williams. The origins of this film are suitably cosmopolitan. It was initiated by an Iranian student – and underwritten by Jeremy Fry from Cadbury Fry Hudson. Its focus is Takis, a Greek artist who creates kinetic sculptures out of discarded electronic objects (at times reminiscent of Len Lye’s work), and plans to mass produce cheaper versions of his work to make his art accessible. But will it still be art?
This NFU production covers the Shah of Iran’s first tour downunder, and uses the occasion to showcase New Zealand to international viewers: from scenery to topdressing, dental clinics and Wellington Girls’ College. The four day visit could be seen as a symbol of globalisation: NZ had been cut adrift by Britain and was looking for markets for its lamb, cheese and wool, and to secure oil supplies. The Shah needed food for his modernising petroleum exporting country. (The booming trade was to be curtailed by the 1979 Iranian Revolution, when the Shah was exiled.)
Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.
Actor/musician Madeleine Sami won international acclaim starring in two Toa Fraser plays: 1998's Bare and solo show No 2. Aged 18, she debuted on screen on Shortland Street and Pio. Following Insiders Guide to Happiness, she was the romantic interest in Sione's Wedding. Sami went on to win an NZ acting award for her show Super City, in which she plays multiple characters, from a gym instructor to an Iranian immigrant. She co-wrote and created the show with Thomas Sainsbury. In 2017 she began production of movie The Breaker Upperers, which she co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in with Jackie van Beek.
After learning the ropes making short films and music videos, ex soldier Matthew Metcalfe has made films in Antarctica and Iraq, and produced movies and TV movies with partners in Canada (Nemesis Game), England (Dean Spanley) and France (Capital in the 21st Century). His projects range from tutus (Toa Fraser's 2013 ballet documentary Giselle) to war (Leanne Pooley's animated feature 25 April).
Simon Marler's film industry experience includes stints as a casting director, as a director of shorts and documentaries, and three years as head of New Zealand film organisation Script to Screen.
Glenn Standring is a writer/director with a background in animation and computer graphics. His 1996 short Lenny Minute was accepted into competition at Cannes. To date his feature films have been southern gothic takes on the occult/horror genres. He also provided the script for historical action tale The Dead Lands, directed in 2014 by No. 2 talent Toa Fraser.