Collection

Top 10 NZ Feature Films

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Arm yourself with jaffas and get set for debate: NZ On Screen has gone out on a limb and selected an all-time NZ feature film Top 10. Starring the icons of the Kiwi big screen — Blondini, Ada, Beth, Boy. Whet your appetite for our finest features via choice 10-minute excerpts of the movies. Cook the man some eggs, we're taking this Top 10 to Invercargill!

That Look in Your Eyes

Th' Dudes, Music Video, 1979

This slow-burning Ian Morris/Dave Dobbyn song was the B-side of Th’Dudes first single ‘Be Mine Tonight’. Music videos for both songs were shot in a day at TVNZ’s Christchurch studios,  in the era before the music video boom – back when, as Dave Dobbyn puts it, “the state made your videos”. A relatively straightforward performance piece, with some outsized masks for visual relief, it has the band largely entering into the spirit of things — with the exception of Dobbyn who shows up at one point with a strange spot on his forehead, before managing a manic stare.

Holmes - Joe Karam and James McNeish on David Bain

Television, 1997 (Full Length)

In May 1995, 22-year old David Bain was convicted of murdering five members of his family with a rifle in their Dunedin home. Bain would spend over a decade in prison before being acquitted on all charges. National debate around the 1995 verdict was galvanised by the release of two conflicting books on the case — Joe Karam’s David and Goliath and James McNeish’s The Mask of Sanity. The former All Black and the writer go head-to-head in this often testy Holmes debate from 1997. Ten years later, the Privy Council quashed Bain’s 1995 conviction; he was acquitted in a 2009 retrial.   

New Zealand Munitions

Short Film, 1941 (Full Length)

New Zealand Munitions was the 26th National Film Unit effort, and the longest made in the Unit's first year. The NFU was established in August 1941 to make films illustrating New Zealand's war effort. Completed in December of that year, this is a classic propaganda piece. As World War II intensifies, New Zealanders are reassured that the country has the heavy industry required to supply its army. Factories are converted to wartime needs and munitions pour out. A suitably bellicose script informs viewers "This is our striking power: men and munitions."

Sheep

Toy Love, Music Video, 1980

The second, double-sided Toy Love single 'Don't Ask Me' / 'Sheep' was released in April 1980 and reached number 10 on the Kiwi pop charts. That year the band signed a contract with Michael Browning — a former manager of AC/DC — and made the move to Sydney, the prize being a studio album and a way bigger audience, but disillusionment soon set in. Sheep jumps out of the gates with driving drums and guitars and lyrics about numbness and confusion, all confirming Toy Love's punk roots. The band wander aimlessly around city streets and rock out in a cramped flat. Punk lives! 

WWI Remembered

Short Film, 2017 (Full Length)

This specially designed light and sound installation was projected onto the facades of the former Dominion Museum and the Carillion in Wellington's Pukeahu Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI in 2015. Archival material, like photographs and excerpts from letters, mix with original artwork inspired by natural imagery, and Māori and Pacific motifs, to tell Kiwi stories from the frontline. Among them are the HMS New Zealand's involvement in the Battle of Jutland, and important work by Kiwi tunnellers. This version is slightly expanded from the original film.

Sierra Leone

Coconut Rough, Music Video, 1983

'Sierra Leone' was one of those songs that quickly stood out from the pack. Andrew McLennan's synth-pop track won his new band Coconut Rough a deal with Mushroom Records, then became a runaway hit in 1983. The video, slick for the time, features bright colours, a running motif, and African imagery. But the pressure of being in demand for a single song became an albatross around the band's neck. As McLennan told website AudioCulture, "‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up."

Dancing with the Stars - Tamati Coffey excerpt (Series Five Final)

Television, 2009 (Excerpts)

Dancing with the Stars puts celebrities through a series of ballroom dancing challenges. This excerpt from the final of the fifth series sees TV presenter (and future Labour MP) Tamati Coffey channel his inner matador. He and dance partner Samantha Hitchcock perform their second routine of the night: the paso doble. Coffey is "flying" after the judges' review, including unexpected praise from Craig Revel Horwood. Coffey ultimately went on to claim the final in a closely contested public vote, beating Olympic champion boardsailor Barbara Kendall.  

A Master of Light - The Life and Work of Brian Brake Photographer

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. He worked for the Magnum cooperative, and snapped famous shots of Pablo Picasso at a bullfight and the Monsoon series for Life magazine. In this Inspiration documentary — made shortly before his 1988 death — Brake reviews his lifelong quest for “mastery over light”, from an Arthur’s Pass childhood to a fascination with Asia. He recalls time at the National Film Unit and is seen capturing waka huia, Egyptian tombs, and Castlepoint’s beach races (for a new version of book Gift of the Sea).

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Film, 2014 (Trailer)

Touted as the defining chapter of the trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies sees Smaug wreaking havoc from the sky, Thorin Oakenshield succumbing to dragon-sickness, and a climactic battle to dwarf anything seen in the first two Hobbit films. As Orcs look to the Lonely Mountain with their eyes on the treasure, dwarves, elves and humans must decide whether to unite and fight them off. The final Hobbit film arrived in cinemas 15 years after Peter Jackson first trained his cameras on Middle-earth — and made it clear that global blockbusters could come from New Zealand.