Our Stars of Ballet, a short documentary from ballet teacher turned NFU director Kathleen O'Brien, tracks the careers of New Zealand ballet icons Rowena Jackson and Alexander Grant, who both achieved success as principal dancers for major ballet companies in England. The film follows their visit to Wellington with the Royal Ballet in 1959; Jackson picnics by the harbour with dancer husband Philip Chatfield, while Grant visits Mt Victoria. The film ends with Jackson performing her famed multiple fouttés en tournant, for which she held the world record in 1959.
Writer/director Hayden J Weal uses chronesthesia (aka mental time travel — the ability to think into the past and future) as a catalyst for romantic comedy in this low-budget feature. Weal stars as a young Wellington barista whose routine is disrupted by mysterious messages, dreams and strangers, plus a flurry of odd coincidences. The cast includes Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison and Cohen Holloway, plus Michelle Ny (Reservoir Hill). Titled Love and Time Travel outside of Aotearoa, the movie debuted in the Wellington edition of the 2016 NZ Film Festival.
A rod and rally race is the angle for this 1969 light comedy. Legendary angler ‘Maggots’ McClure lures “glamour boy” lawyer and fishing novice Applejoy (Peter Vere-Jones) into a contest to catch three trophy fish in Russell, Taupō, and Waitaki. The old dunga versus Alvis ‘Speed 20’, north versus south duel transfixes the nation; snags, shags and scenic diversion ensue. Directed by noted UK documentary maker Derek Williams, the caper was made with NFU help and funded by energy company BP. It showed with Gregory Peck western The Stalking Mood in New Zealand theatres.
Boy director Taika Waititi teams up with his Eagle vs Shark star Jemaine Clement to present this bloody comedy about the travails of a flat of vampires. Reality TV-style cameras tag the vamps as they struggle to get into Courtenay Place nightclubs, squabble over chores and face off werewolves. A roster of Kiwi comedic talent (including Jonathan Brugh and Rhys Darby) feature. After winning fangtastic reviews at America's Sundance and SXSW festivals, Shadows won a run of global sales, local success and four Moa awards, including Best Self-Funded Feature.
This off-the-wall comedy of errors — from the Loose Enz series — sees hapless tour operator Graham (Ian Watkin) and his wide boy driver Ron (John Bach) leading a busload of international visitors (well) off the beaten trail. the teleplay neatly skewers clichéd promotional travelogue commentaries (with the music of Sibelius never far away) and takes broader shots at the tourists’ various cultural stereotypes. With Graham well-meaning but dim, and Ron too busy looking after number one, Graham’s mum (a formidable Yvonne Lawley) and enterprising local Iwi come into their own as hosts.
Hosted by Jason Gunn, this popular late 90s teen talent quest became a pop culture marker for young Kiwis of the era. In this 1999 grand final at Te Papa’s marae, judges King Kapisi and Stacey Daniels assess the year's finalists. They include 11-year-old Hayley Westenra performing ‘The Mists of Islay’, which Westenra would later record after finding global fame as a classical crossover singer. The international guest is another young prodigy: violinist Vanessa Mae. Future Sticky TV/C4 presenter Drew Neemia was one of the members of house troupe The Super Troopers.
Host Richard Driver introduces this short Radio With Pictures segment on the “band that made Milwaukee famous”. For the Violent Femmes it’s a long way from Wisconsin to Wellington. RWP hands control of the camera to the band: after goofing around in the ivy in front of Victoria University’s Hunter Building, the Femmes are presented with their first gold record in a nearby graveyard (New Zealand is “obviously a country with a high level of taste”). The first Femmes break up occured the following year. The band's cover of T. Rex classic ‘Children of the Revolution’ plays on the soundtrack.
Flight of the Conchords star and onetime Black Seeds musician Bret McKenzie clearly digs Wellington. In this video for solo project The Video Kid, he goes early morning skateboarding through the capital city. The downbeat groove of the folk-electronica number is a perfect match for a glorious 'on a good day' dawn, as the sun rises over Mt Matthews and the crew cruise down Wellington's Alexandra Road and along Mt Victoria's town belt. Later in the golden light they claim a deserted golden mile (Lambton Quay) for the skaters.
Duggan stars John Bach as brooding Detective Inspector Duggan, attempting to solve murders amid the tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds. New Zealand's answer to Inspector Morse, the show was conceived by Marion McLeod, and scripted by Donna Malane and Ken Duncum. Eleven episodes of the Gibson Group series were made, following on from introductory tele-features Death in Paradise and Sins of the Father. The turquoise waters of The Sounds make for an evocative setting in this sharp, classy Kiwi whodunit. Rachel Davies writes here about Duggan's birth.
Donna Malane, who runs company Lippy Pictures with writer Paula Boock, is an award-winning producer and screenwriter. She has written a wide variety of television including drama, fantasy, children’s drama, sketch comedy and documentary. Malane is also the author of a number of books, including acclaimed crime novel Surrender.