Bruce Morrison's career as a producer, director and writer has brought some memorable New Zealand stories to the screen. He has been involved in a number of arts shows such as Kaleidoscope and Profiles, as well as poetry documentaries The Roaring 40's Tour and The Road to Jerusalem. Morrison directed the feature films Constance, Shaker Run and Queen City Rocker, and was a long-time director on Gary McCormick's iconic Heartland documentary series.
This collection celebrates New Zealand's rich history in poetry, with documentaries on some of the country's finest poets — including Allen Curnow, Denis Glover, Sam Hunt, James K Baxter, Cilla McQueen and Hone Tuwhare. Tuwhare turns up in multiple titles, from 1975 interview Review - Hone Tuwhare to Gaylene Preston's 2005 documentary. Meanwhile Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick hit the road in 1980’s Artists Prepare, then 15 years later in The Roaring 40's Tour — when the ache of descending middle age is upon them.
Writer Janet Frame (1924 - 2004) is an icon of New Zealand literature; her 'edge of the alphabet' use of language has seen her acclaimed as "one of the great writers of our time" (San Francisco Chronicle). This collection celebrates Frame's life and work on screen, from applauded Vincent Ward and Jane Campion translations to a rare TV interview with Michael Noonan.
Early Days Yet, directed by Shirley Horrocks, is a full-length documentary about New Zealand poet Allen Curnow, made in the last months of his life. The poet talks about his life and work, and visits the places of some of his most important poems. It includes interviews with other New Zealand poets about Curnow's significance as an advocate for New Zealand poetry. As Curnow famously mused in front of a moa skeleton displayed in Canterbury Museum: "Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year / Will learn the trick of standing upright here."
This documentary offers a glimpse into the life, art, and inimitable cheeky-as-a-kaka style of late Kiwi poet, Hone Tuwhare. In the Gaylene Preston-directed film, the man with "the big rubber face" (cheers Glenn Colquhoun) is observed at home, and travelling the country reading his work; polishing a new love poem; visiting old drinking haunts; reading to a hall full of entranced students; and expounding his distinctive views on everything from The Bible to Karl Marx's love life. He reads some of his best-known poems, including Rain and No Ordinary Sun.
Artists Prepare was an National Film Unit series that featured prominent performance-based artists of the time. The edition follows poets Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick (the "John Travolta of New Zealand poetry") on tour in the Nelson region as they give poetry readings, talk to high school girls, drink whiskey, and muse about poetry and life — while Minstrel, Hunt's dog, lies patiently under bar tables. Ultra-tight stovepipe jeans, rock-star scarves, scenes in a milk bar and out on the open road in a Valiant evoke a time when poetry and heartthrob weren't antonyms.
In 2003 Toi Māori Aotearoa engaged Charlotte Yates to produce an album and stage performance celebrating the verse of poet Hone Tuwhare. Yates co-opted various musicians (including Dallas Tamaira from Fat Freddy's Drop, and the late Graham Brazier) to transform Tuwhare's poetry into lyrics, using a range of music from rock to dub. This short film by Lala Rolls was commissioned for the album launch; the material was also used in the live show. We see Tuwhare at home at Kaka Point and reciting his poetry against the songs, and glimpse his warmth, humour and literary verve.
This 2017 Loading Doc profiles Dominic Hoey (formerly known as rapper Tourettes) as he prepares a play about his battle with debilitating bone disease. Hoey, whose career clocks everything from punk drummer to poems in Landfall, brings a trademark rebel spirit as he reflects on his condition — and the challenges it gives to an artist renowned for his high voltage performances. Hoey was determined the portrait avoid being a pity fest, and collaborated with directors Damian Golfinopoulos and Stjohn Milgrew on the script. The result mixes interview, poetry and archive.
Denis Glover's poems are some of the most enduring in our literary tradition. "And Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle" from The Magpies is probably New Zealand poetry's best known line. Glover (1912-1980) also established the first independent literary press (The Caxton Press). This documentary, directed by Bill de Friez, takes a candid look at the poet and reveals a larger than life figure ("a great drinker, a great womaniser, a great poet") connected to all the literary personalities of his day.
"Space — big hills, snow-capped, blue skies ... that's the Maniototo, Central Otago." So says local poet Ross McMillan, describing the landscape that inspires much of his work. The Maniototo plain has also inspired writing from James K Baxter, Janet Frame, and Gary McCormick, the host of this full-length Heartland episode. McCormick finds a strong sense of community amidst the poetry of isolation: whether in the shearing shed, the sports field or the ice-skating rink. He also talks to local high-schoolers, some resigned to having to leave the area to find work.