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ICE - Mortality (Episode Four)

Television, 2007 (Excerpts)

Idiosyncratic TV host Marcus Lush — continuing his ratings-winning collaboration with Jam TV — goes further off the rails and further south in this five-part series about the history, environment and wildlife of Antarctica. In this short excerpt Lush disrobes for the camera to experience a Scott Base three-minute shower. He also interviews the Curator of Antarctic History at Canterbury Museum who contextualises Captain Scott's 1912 expedition to the Pole that departed from Lyttelton harbour as being "very similar to blasting off to the moon from Hagley Park".

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The Whole of the Moon

Film, 1996 (Excerpts)

Teen actors Nikki Si'ulepa and Toby Fisher won acclaim in Ian Mune's fourth feature as director. Si'ulepa plays a Samoan street kid who meets a well-off white teen, when both are facing mortality in a hospital ward. The co-production between NZ and Canada (where it debuted on cable TV) won over critics in both nations. "Si'ulepa dominates the camera and the action with a natural authority", raved Metro. Moon scooped the gongs at the 1996 TV Guide Awards (including for originating screenwriter Richard Lymposs); and won notice at Berlin and Giffoni film festivals.

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Crisis: One Man's Fight

Television, 1989 (Full Length)

Just days after finding out he had bowel cancer, Wellington actor Peter Vere-Jones invited a film crew to document his journey through the treatment process to the final outcome. This is a highly personal, and at times harrowing, account of a man coming to terms with his mortality. The documentary puts the audience squarely in Vere-Jones' corner. Although much of the doco is filmed inside Wellington Hospital, Vere-Jones' wit and insight paints a picture of a life far beyond those walls.

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My Name is Jane

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

Shot on the run in 1998, My Name is Jane is built around the biggest deadline a filmmaker could face: the death of its subject. With a history of cancer in her family, musician and cancer sufferer Jane Devine proposed a film to director Amanda Robertshawe: one in which the personable Devine takes us through the process of making peace with her own passing — and the impossible task of preparing a son for life without her. The resulting documentary, surely among our most affecting hours of television, won repeat screenings and international plaudits.

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Slabbed

Short Film, 2015 (Full Length)

The synopsis for this 2015 short film gets straight to the point: 'A man has a lot to think about when he wakes up dead'. Part black comedy, part tearjerker, Slabbed revolves around two men having a chat, one of whom has just worked out he'll never be getting that tattoo he always wanted. The man lying on the next slab has a speech impediment caused by his injuries. Stabbed won writer/director Ben Hobbs third prize at the local arm of short film contest Tropfest. Actor Preston O'Brien — playing the victim with the tattoos — scored for Best Male Actor. 

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Loading Docs 2017 - The Coffin Club

Web, 2017 (Full Length)

A unique Kiwi story about prepping for death has captured the attention of international media. The BBC, The Guardian and National Geographic have all interviewed elderly members of a build-your-own-coffin club, some of whom feature in this musical short film. Members of the Kiwi Coffin Club don sequins and top hats, while singing about what makes their club tick — death is not to be feared, but instead should be celebrated as a normal part of life. A lyric from this offbeat Loading Doc sums up things succinctly: "It's the final verse but life goes on." 

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Where There is Life

Film, 2017 (Trailer)

Where There is Life follows the journey of Margaret Lee, her husband Stephen and their daughter Imogen, after Margaret is diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in late 2010. Directed by Gwen Isaac, the documentary intimately follows a family struggling with the impact of the degenerative condition, as they confront the question "how should we live when we are dying?" Imogen was 10 when a defiant Margaret was diagnosed, and Stephen became her full-time carer. The film gets three screenings in August 2017, in the Wellington leg of the NZ International Film Festival.

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Plain Tastes

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

A plain tale about the swollen secretions of suburban love. In middle class Auckland vulnerable passions break the surface as Laura (Meryl Main from Highwater) aggressively pursues love and acceptance, finding something very like it right next door. For director Niki Caro this one-hour drama was a watershed in her career. It was her ultimate drama production before embarking on a feature film career; it screened as part of the Montana Theatre series on TV One in 1995. Plain Tastes features Marton Csokas and Kate Harcourt. Producer Owen Hughes writes about Plain Tastes here.

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A Death in the Family

Television, 1986 (Excerpts)

Peter Wells and Stewart Main’s acclaimed drama screened in primetime and was ground-breaking in featuring AIDS. Wells' script is based on the death of one of his friends — one of the first New Zealanders to die from the disease — but the living are the focus, as Wells creates an intimate “strange and foreign land” occupied by those close to someone who is dying. Andy’s friends confront both their own mortality and the deadly new disease stalking their community, while his conservative family grapples with never having come to terms with his sexuality. The excerpt features the opening 10 minutes. 

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Born in New Zealand

Short Film, 1958 (Full Length)

This National Film Unit production was made to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Plunket Society. Plunket — aka ‘Karitane’ — nursing is a New Zealand system of ante-natal and post-natal care for mothers and infants, founded by Sir Truby King: “the man who saved the babies”. Featuring original nurse Joanne MacKinnon, the film follows Plunket from a time of high infant mortality to providing contemporary nursing to a New Zealand flush with postwar optimism: “a family country, where children grow happily in the fresh air and sunshine.”