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Spotlight

Controversial Crime Stories

Curated by the NZ On Screen team . 9 Items

The Crewe murders were New Zealand's first controversial court case to be played out in the television age. In the decades since, several other controversial cases have been the subject of high profile documentaries and films. This Spotlight collection includes award-winner Relative Guilt, about ...

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Act of Murder

Television, 1993 (Excerpts)

This film documents Miranda Harcourt taking her stageplay Verbatim (written by Harcourt and William Brandt) to prison audiences. The play is a six-character monologue made up of accounts of violent crime, all performed by Harcourt. Director Shirley Horrocks captures the reactions of the prison inmates watching their own lives unfold on stage. Harcourt’s powerful performance is augmented with revealing testimonies of the broken men and women who agree to be interviewed. The documentary won the premier prize at the 1993 Media Peace Awards.

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Murder on the Blade?

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Subtitled A Journalist's View, this award-winning documentary makes the case that Scott Watson shouldn't have been imprisoned for murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope — because he couldn't have done it. Returning to Endeavour Inlet, veteran director Keith Hunter talks to witnesses, and argues the prosecution fumbled vital details of the murderer's yacht and description, then advanced a new theory without evidence to back it. Hunter went on to write 2007 book Trial by Trickery, further critiquing what he calls “New Zealand's most blatantly dishonest prosecution”.

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The Murder House

Short Film, 1998 (Full Length)

"I hope you're braver than your brother." A young schoolboy (James Ordish) finds his day plunging into nightmare, when he gets called in for a session with the school dental nurse. The nurse (a sly performance by future casting director Tina Cleary) seems to take pleasure in other people's pain. Directed by cinematographer Warrick ‘Waka' Attewell (Starlight Hotel), this short film for the dental wary was written by Ken Hammon, who was part of the team behind Peter Jackson's debut feature, splatter flick Bad Taste

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Spotlight

BANNED!

Curated by the NZ On Screen team . 7 Items

This bad-arse Spotlight collection features seven titles that were withheld from our television screens when they were first made. Moral offenders include heavy metal band Timberjack’s town belt satanists (with nude damsel), Hell’s Angels bikers, a ‘no nukes’ Goon Spike Milligan, and unmarried si...

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Spotlight

Spying

Curated by the NZ On Screen team . 10 Items

With the expansion of technology turning us into a global village, there’s also a potential downside – spying. It’s not a new concept, but surveillance has certainly got more sophisticated of late: James Bond, eat your heart out! From spies downunder in The Alpha Plan and the 1970s Ngaio Marsh mu...

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Interview

Bryan Bruce: From Mansfield to murder...

Interview – Ian Pryor. Camera and Editing – Alex Backhouse

Veteran producer, director, writer and presenter Bryan Bruce has made programmes on everything from Kiwi humour to mass murderers. Bruce specialises in campaigning documentaries with a social justice angle, as well as crime shows.

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Interview

Jason Stutter: The comedy of murder...

Interview – Ian Pryor. Camera and Editing – Alex Backhouse

Jason Stutter has a talent for going for the jugular, yet doing it in style. In Stutter’s movies, the camera plunges headfirst into haunted hospitals, dodgy smalltown dealings, and fight scenes with Pacific Island Ninjas whose parents were unexpectedly half-gobbled by fish.

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Ngaio Marsh Theatre - Died in the Wool

Television, 1978 (Full Length Episode)

Died in the Wool was part of a TV anthology adapting the murder mysteries of Dame Ngaio Marsh. MP Flossie Rubrick has been found dead in a wool bale, and it's up to Inspector Roderick Alleyn (UK actor George Baker — Bond, Z Cars, I, Claudius) to unravel the secrets of a South Island sheep station. The tale of a cultured Englishman amidst World War II spies, Bach and seamy colonial crimes — like Marsh's books — found a global audience: it was the first NZ TV drama to screen in the US (on PBS). Includes a Cluedo-style sitting room inquest and a wool shed reveal.

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Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Film, 1980 (Trailer)

This feature is a dramatized reconstruction of actual events surrounding a notorious miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe but later exonerated. Directed by John Laing, produced by John Barnett and starring well-known English actor David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the docudrama leveraged the immense public interest in the case (Thomas was pardoned when the film was in pre-production). It became NZ's most successful commercial film until Goodbye Pork Pie.