The theatre of sport is given full-blown operatic treatment in this National Film Unit classic. Footage from the French 1979 rugby tour of New Zealand is rendered in slow-motion and cut to a Tchaikovsky score. The result is an often glorious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, paean to rugby. Balletic lineouts, driving tackles, and the dark mysteries of the ruck, make for a ballsy Swan Lake in the mud. It includes the Bastille Day French victory over the All Blacks. Directed by NFU stalwart Arthur Everard, it won a jury prize at the Montreal World Film Festival.
In the year of his knighthood, Sir Howard got to fulfil a long-held dream — playing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Broadcast on TV One in October 1990, this is a big show, from its opening Space Odyssey theme, through the operatic numbers to finale ‘This is the Moment’. It is classic Howard Morrison in its blend of cabaret, humour and Māori culture. Sir Howard performs his most controversial song, ‘My Old Man’s An All Black’, with comedian Billy T James, and has ex-All Blacks captain Buck Shelford up on stage to lead the haka alongside Temuera Morrison.
Director Greg Stitt's 50min short sees actor Mark Hadlow playing Kevin: a pie cart worker obsessed with the singer Mario Lanza. Kevin's idolatry turns into an identity crisis as operatic-scale fantasising clashes with his meek disposition. Further complications arise from a friendship with his brash punk neighbour, and from stage fright ahead of a fundraiser for Kev's Lanza fan club (Lanza also had a noteworthy teenage fan club in Heavenly Creatures). Will Kev get his Susan Boyle moment? The black comedy was written with Scarecrow scribe Michael Heath.
In this report for arts show Kaleidoscope, Aileen O'Sullivan interviews writer Witi Ihimaera about Waituhi - The Life of the Village, an operatic collaboration with Pākehā composer Ross Harris. Amidst rehearsals before the opera's September 1984 premiere in Wellington, Ihimaera opens up about the personal and spiritual inspirations behind his first ever libretto. Ihimaera has used Waituhi, the East Coast village of his birth, as the setting for several of his novels. His libretto for Waituhi weaves together stories and waiata of love and loss from different generations of one whānau.
This stylishly high camp melodrama from directors Stewart Main and Peter Wells won acclaim, after debuting at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. In the imaginary 19th-century town of Hope, draper Dorothea Brooks (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) is desperate to save her sister from the clutches of opium, sex and the dastardly Fraser. She begs hunky migrant Lawrence Hayes to help; but complications ensue. Inspired partly by 1930s and 40s Hollywood melodramas, Desperate Remedies was sumptously shot by Leon Narbey (Whale Rider). Richard King writes about the film here.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the multi-talented Dave Fraser brought his multiple musical talents to score everything from features and National Film Unit documentaries to television dramas and commercials. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-215042-F (Detail)
A well-known New Zealand television face for over two decades, Elizabeth Bourn provided continuity between shows. At WNTV-1 in the 60s she became known as ‘The Friday Girl’, hosting the network’s early evening shift. From the early 70s she spent 17 years with state TV as a continuity presenter. Her role was to keep evening programmes flowing with programme information, plus occasional weather and news.
Thomas Sainsbury is a chameleon with an eclectic CV. He is an accomplished playwright, he co-wrote TV series Super City with Madeleine Sami and has collaborated with others on web series Stake Out, Bachelor Pad and The Video Store. As the ‘Snapchat Dude’, he is best known for using wigs and face manipulation to parody people, such as Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. Image: photo by Andi Crown
New Plymouth born Katie Wolfe has made the transition from actor to director. After leading roles in Marlin Bay, Cover Story, and Mercy Peak she stepped behind the camera in 2002, directing on Shortland Street. In 2008 she directed her first short film This Is Her, which screened at festivals around the globe. Wolfe's adaptation of Witi Ihimaera novel Nights in the Garden of Spain screened on TV in January 2011.
Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.