Collection

Brian Brake at the NFU

Curated by NZ On Screen team

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. 

Gottfried Lindauer in New Zealand

Short Film, 1976 (Full Length)

This NFU portrait of 19th Century artist Gottfried Lindauer traces his wide-ranging life, from his Bohemian origins and arrival in New Zealand in 1873, aged 35, to his death in Woodville in 1926. Lindauer’s portraits, especially of Māori in formal dress, became an iconic record of colonial era New Zealand people. A market developed for Lindauer’s work, established by his patron Henry Partridge. Lindauer’s commissions (held at Auckland Art Gallery) are respectfully filmed here; and his process is detailed, including his most famous image, Ana Rupene and Child.

Distinctly Grahame Sydney

Television, 2006 (Full Length)

Painter Grahame Sydney has been pigeonholed by some as a landscape artist, but this doumentary contends that his evocative depictions of his Central Otago surroundings are much more than just exercises in realism. Fellow locals, poet Brian Turner and actor Sam Neill discuss the emotional and artistic resonance his work holds for them. Sydney's portraits and figure studies are also examined. The production of one of his lithographs is followed from inception — as a sketch on a slab of Bavarian limestone brought to NZ over 200 years ago — to fully fledged print.

The City of No

Television, 1971 (Full Length)

It's Wellington in the 1970s and Bob (Jeremy Stephens) is having a midlife crisis. Square-peg Graham (Bill Johnson, who later played Mr Wilberforce in Under the Mountain) tries to convince Bob to quit his bohemian lifestyle (and his lover/muse Carol) and return to his wife Jean. But is Graham really acting in his mate's best interests? Featuring a young Sam Neill as the epitome of handsome, unfettered youth (flared jeans, bushy beard) this early, well-received TV drama was one of several produced by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation to tackle 'difficult' contemporary issues.

A Master of Light - The Life and Work of Brian Brake Photographer

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. He worked for the Magnum cooperative, 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 time at the National Film Unit and is seen capturing waka huia, Egyptian tombs, and Castlepoint’s beach races (for a new version of book Gift of the Sea).

Boy

Short Film, 2004 (Full Length)

In Boy, a college-aged rent boy exposes the truth about the death of a girl in a hit and run accident. Using typography that hovers on screen in place of dialogue, flares of bold colour, dioramic frames, and brutal portraiture reminiscent of American photographer Dianne Arbus, director Welby Ings creates a powerful vision of claustrophobia and sexual violence in small town New Zealand. The film gained acclaim both at home and internationally. It played at a long run of film festivals, and was judged Best Short Film at American fest Cinequest.