Trainspotter Marcus Lush trades the Raurimu Spiral for Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway where he is served peas in oil. He takes in a vast country wrestling off shackles of communism, where beer drinking on buses on the way to work equates with capitalist freedom. He visits Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok, and inbetween discovers that much of Russia still follows traditional customs: emphasising respect, sharing food, drink and ciggies; and he concludes: "I'd rather be a peasant in Russia than live in a trailer park in Detroit."
Former All Blacks Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis team up once again to export their brand of larrikin-like behaviour overseas. In this first episode of their Russian travels they find themselves in the capital of Moscow, where they compete to get smiles out of locals, and head to a space agency building to see if they have the physical ability (and appropriate payment for the guards) to head out into the cosmos. Ridge is informed of a kidney problem, and Ellis gets told he has a dickey heart; but neither diagnosis is enough to prevent the pair testing their limits on the centrifuge.
Lucinda (Danielle Cormack) lives a fairytale life with dairy farmer Rob (Karl Urban), and his 117 cows. But after a freak car accident she decides to test Rob's love for her by trying to make him angry. He passes her tests until a quilt goes missing from their bed; the price of getting it back is high. Harry Sinclair's follow-up to Topless Women Talk about their Lives is quirky and romantic, but not especially fantastical — yet it won a trio of awards at specialist fantasy film festivals overseas. The fulsome soundtrack is performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.
This documentary examines an unusual Aotearoa first encounter: between Māori and Russians in 1820, when Queen Charlotte Sound was visited by Fabian Bellingshausen aboard the sloop the Vostok. Alongside reenactments of crew diaries, presenter Moana Maniapoto gets a history lesson from Tipene O'Regan, and visits Russia to look at traded taonga and archive material — and also find out what the famed Antarctic discoverer was doing in Ship Cove shortly after Napoleon was sent packing from Moscow. The doco screened on Māori TV and at Australia's Message Stick Festival.
Director Dustin Feneley’s first feature is set in a wintry Central Otago landscape. It charts the relationship between a man on parole (Kieran Charnock from The Rehearsal and short Cub) and a woman just out of a psychiatric facility (Arta Dobroshi, from Belgian film Lorna’s Silence). A highly successful crowdfunding campaign raised $125,000 towards the film. Stray won the first of many awards (for actor Charnock) when it premiered at the 2018 Moscow International Film Festival. Critics found it "compelling and haunting" (The NZ Herald) and "indelibly beautiful" (Stuff).
2013 Arts Foundation Laureate Dean Parker has written extensively for stage, television, radio and print. Alongside his own projects, he has shown himself as a skilled adaptor of everyone from Nicky Hager (The Hollow Men) to Ronald Hugh Morrieson (movie classic Came a Hot Friday).
Robert Lord was writing full time at a point when few Kiwi playwrights made a living from their work. In 1988 he turned his play Bert and Maisy into a television series. He also had scriptwriting credits on TV's Peppermint Twist and big screen period drama Pictures. Lord's classic play Joyful and Triumphant was dramatised for television in 1993, soon after his death at age 46.
Peter Feeney is a veritable Swiss Army knife of the screen, with credits as an actor, casting director and acting tutor. Feeney's 20 year plus acting CV ranges from drama (as Rose-Noelle skipper John Glennie, in TV movie Abandoned), kids TV (The Cul de Sac), comedy (Auckland Daze), New Zealand-shot US shows (Spartacus), and film. He won rave reviews as a mad scientist in movie hit Black Sheep.
Jeremy Macey followed up studies in Russian and German and work as a Moscow ad man, by directing documentaries on Jewish folk music and the National Youth Choir. After a development role at the NZ Film Commission, he worked on short films including the Loading Docs short Gina and the Berlin Film Festival selected I’m Going to Mum’s. In 2011 he co-produced Shane Loader and Andrea Bosshard's second feature film Hook, Line and Sinker. He collaborated with the duo again in 2016 to produce The Great Maiden’s Blush, which would win Best Self-Funded Film at the New Zealand Film Awards.
Jeffrey Thomas was born in Wales and graduated with a Master of Literature from Oxford University. Since arriving in Wellington in 1976, his televison credits have ranged from Close To Home and Gloss, to Mercy Peak and cop dramas Shark in the Park and The Gulf. In the 1980s he starred in a Welsh language drama series Bowen. An award-winning playwright, he has also acted on the big screen and the stage.