This National Film Unit film follows Nobel Prize-winning scientist Ernest Rutherford, from farm boy in the Marlborough Sounds to leading Cambridge University's legendary Cavendish Laboratory. Described by Einstein as "a second Newton", Rutherford was one of the founders of modern atomic physics. Director David Sims pays special attention to Rutherford's colonial upbringing and education, and how it encouraged him to experiment. The atom-splitter famously said of Kiwi ingenuity, "we don't have the money, so we have to think". Rutherford is voiced by actor Grant Tilly.
This Inspiration edition profiles NZ’s pre-eminent children's author Margaret Mahy: from her childhood as "Mad Margaret", through her days as an unmarried mother and librarian to an internationally acclaimed writing career. The centrepiece is a specially commissioned – and typically zany – story about a story (complete with talking mail boxes, typewriters and bookshelves) where Mahy goes meta, and explores the role imagination plays in her work. Throughout the Keith Hunter-directed documentary there is vivid evidence of the remarkable bond Mahy shared with her readers.
In director Grant Lahood's 2013 Tropfest NZ entry a young boy takes Kiwi ingenuity to the next level by creatively adapting his gumboots to net sporting victory. But it’s a risky move. Sprung marks a return for Lahood to his dialogue free short film beginnings (eg. Cannes award-winner The Singing Trophy, and his debut Snail’s Pace). Like those shorts, Sprung has a devilish sense of humour, and a crisply edited contest of wills. The ode to the courage of the young and the unpredictability of science was scored by veteran film and TV composers Plan 9.
Paul Callaghan (1947 - 2012) was an internationally celebrated scientist, and a passionate advocate for Aotearoa. He was a popular science communicator (including a radio show with Kim Hill), campaigned to make New Zealand “a place where talent wants to live”, and championed the idea of a predator-free New Zealand. Shirley Horrocks' documentary focuses on the field that Callaghan became a world expert in — magnetic resonance — and interviews Callaghan's family, colleagues, students and friends. The film was invited to play at the 2018 NZ International Film Festival.
Artist Sam Hamilton describes his experimental feature as an “independent inquiry” into 10 celestial bodies found in The Milky Way. The Arts Foundation New Generation award-winner splices together images ranging from psychedelia to performance art to physics — shot on 16mm film across NZ and Samoa. The film's centrepiece is a sequence of dancer Ioane Papali’i with his limbs tethered to a tree. Newshub's Matthew Hutching praised Apple Pie's debut screening at the 2016 NZ Film Festival: “an absorbing, playful rumination on scientific patterns across our galaxy.”
"I always wanted to make videos that turn sound into form". So says musician Nigel Stanford about the video for this track, from 2014 album Solar Echoes. In the Shahir Daud-directed video, science meets art and music meets image, as sound waves create an array of visual patterns in water, fire and sand. The mad professors’ physics class employs the Tesla Coil, Chladni Plate and Ruben’s Tube to vivid effect. It took two days to shoot, eight months to complete, won Best Music Video at the 2015 Vodafone NZ Music Awards, and has been watched over 14 million times on YouTube.
Voom's on-off recording style meant their debut album Now I Am Me (1998) took at least six years to eventuate. Songs like 'Relax' and 'Beth' won them fans on student radio, and they played a support slot for Pulp. Many line-up changes later Buzz Moller — by 2005 the only original member — enlisted three new players to complete Hello, Are You There? which Nick Bollinger later rated as one of New Zealand’s 100 Essential Albums. Voom's influences included "the Beatles, Mum, The Beach Boys, girls, quantum physics and love lost and found”.
The multi-talented Jim Hopkins started as a serious debater, but inspired by a more comedic style of debating, brought it to New Zealand shores.
Quite aside from being a talented and prolific actor, Ian Mune has made behind the scenes contributions to many New Zealand screen landmarks. Mune's writing career ranges from some of New Zealand's earliest television series to Goodbye Pork Pie. His work as director includes classics Came a Hot Friday and The End of the Golden Weather, and the hit sequel to Once Were Warriors.
Cinematographer John Cavill was trained in the glory days of state television. After entering the industry at the age of 17, he went on to film everything from comedy to sports — then from the late 1990s, globally successful shows like Hercules, Xena and Spartacus. His CV reflects his experience in shooting action and visual effects. In 2018 Cavill won a Daytime Emmy for Chinese-American production Scars of Nanking.