Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer; he worked for Magnum and snapped famous shots of Pablo Picasso at a bullfight and the Monsoon series for Life magazine. In this Inspiration documentary — made shortly before his 1988 death — Brake reviews his lifelong quest for “mastery over light”: from an Arthur’s Pass childhood to a fascination with Asia. He recalls his time at the National Film Unit and is seen framing waka huia, Egyptian tombs, and punters at Castlepoint’s beach races (for a new version of book Gift of the Sea).
Ever wondered why artist Peter Peryer photographed himself holding a chicken? This film provides the answer. It profiles Peryer, one of New Zealand's most significant, and intriguing, art photographers. Directed by Greg Stitt, the documentary traces the development of Peryer's work - from "crucified Christ to laughing Buddha" - through Catholic themes to a more minimalist approach. It explores the importance of the idea in his work; and shows some of his captivating images - the "bodies of work, families of photos, and images that rhyme".
Director John Bates' 1993 documentary examines the life and work of photographer Robin Morrison, who captured iconic images of everyday New Zealand life and landscape. Part biography, part travelogue, the film goes on the road with Morrison to revisit some of his best-loved locations. Stunningly shot by Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano) before Morrison died on 12 March 1993, Sense of Place won Best Documentary at the 1994 New Zealand Film and Television awards, and a certificate of merit at the 37th San Francisco International Film Festival.
For this screen showcase of NZ visual arts talent, critic Mark Amery selects his top documentaries profiling artists. From the icons (Hotere, McCahon, Lye) to the unheralded (Edith Collier) to Takis the Greek, each portrait shines light on the person behind the canvas. "Naturally inquisitive, with an open wonder about the world, they make for inspiring onscreen company."
For a small country from the edge of the world, achievements on the Olympic stage are badges — silver fern-on-black — of national pride: precious moments where we gained notice (even if it was Mum’s anthem playing on the dais). This legacy collection draws on archive footage, some rarely seen, to celebrate the stories behind Kiwis going for gold.
Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.
As a showcase history of Christchurch on screen this collection is backwards looking; but the devastation caused by the earthquakes gives it much more than nostalgic poignancy. As Russell Brown reflects in his introduction, the clips are mementos from, "a place whose face has changed". They testify to the buildings, culture and life of a city now lost, but sure to rise.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
In Episode Two of this series of The Big Art Trip, hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Fiona McDonald visit the Grey Lynn home of painter Jacqueline Fahey and the downtown studio of photographer and rocketeer Yuk King Tan. Next they drive west to Laingholm and meet singer/songwriter Victoria (Taus) Girling-Butcher and her band Lucid 3. Then it’s back to Grey Lynn to meet artist John Reynolds and his oil stick paintings, and into the city to see the iconic Bushells sign and meet photographer Natalie Robertson, who is shooting a collection of NZ tea towels.
Rosemary Edmonds (Annie Whittle) is a photographer, mother and middle-distance runner. A project photographing the rare yellow-eyed penguin sends her to a remote Otago cottage. On arrival odd happenings become increasingly menacing. Rosemary refuses to be intimidated. But events escalate, sending her running from her unknown assailant to the phone box for help in the race of her life. Bird-watching, stranger danger and feminist film theory line up for a time trial in Melanie Read's first feature, for which 20 of the 29-strong production crew were women. Marathon champ Allison Roe — who trained Whittle for the film — makes a brief cameo.