Actor Kevin Smith could do it all; from brooding like Brando in a Tennessee Williams play, through Xena, to the gentle romantic lead of Double Booking, and self-parody in Love Mussel. Collected here are selections from a career cut short (he died in a 2002 film-set accident). Plus tributes from James Griffin, Michael Hurst, Geoffrey Dolan and Simon Prast.
Actor Michael Hurst began life in northern England, then moved to Christchurch at age eight. In this Here to Stay episode he looks at the pervasive elements of Kiwi culture that derive from mother England — from roasts, rugby, tea and the Mini, to a language and legal system. In this excerpt Hurst fries up fish'n'chips with Ray McVinnie, stalks deer with Davey Hughes, and explores how class ideals travelled south to Mt Peel and Christ's College .... A chorus of Kiwis, including ex-All Blacks' captain David Kirk and historian Jock Phillips, ponder the influence.
As a downtown Auckland street performer — Mesmer — makes a special connection with a cafe customer, it transpires that she can move punters in mysterious ways. Her alien perspective is distinctively conveyed: Mesmer's metallic outfit shimmers in silver, blue and gold, and she sounds like a robotic tui as she shifts and whirs and works the crowd. The first film from Morag Brownlie, Mes Mer was invited to international festivals. Among the spellbound locals, watch out for future-NZ’s Next Top Model judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree, next to Bjork (!).
This NZBC documentary goes behind the scenes of the All Blacks, as the 1969 edition prepares to face the Welsh tourists. Match-day superstitions and training routines are analysed: Colin Meads relays his fitness regime (up farm hills), Sid Going discusses being a missionary, and there is much musing on all-things All Black from players, punters and even footballers’ wives. Exploration of player psychology plays it up the middle, and though the film neglects to ask how many Weetbix a player can eat, it was nominated for Best Documentary at the 1970 Feltex Awards.
Occasional Heartland host Kerre Woodham visits the annual Easter races at Riverton in Southland. Riverton is New Zealand's second oldest town, and the close knit locals have a big passion for horse-racing. Woodham talks to owners, trainers (one of them at his freezing works job), jockeys and punters, as well as the judges of 'Best Dressed Lady at the Races', who are looking for a nice line in matching hats, bags, shoes and gloves. The documentary contains some good examples of the Southland rolled 'r' from some of the locals who are interviewed.
In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.
Avoiding the bells and big notes of TV talent franchises like X Factor and Got Talent, the stage of this Māori Television series is Aotearoa’s streets and night markets. Passing punters hit the mic to see if they can make it through three karaoke rounds to win $1000. It replaced long-running studio karaoke show Homai Te Pakipakai, and was hosted by Homai's Te Hamua Nikora. Created by Bailey Mackey (The GC) and Jonathon Urlich, the format won international interest. Raved The Spinoff writer Madeleine Chapman: "Sidewalk Karaoke is so simple it’s genius."
Long fascinated by the idea of community, Florian Habicht (Love Story, Kaikohe Demolition) discovered one in an unexpected place while making his eighth feature. Spookers is the name of a live horror attraction south of Auckland, adjoining what was once Kingseat psychiatric hospital. Habicht got to know a number of the performers working there. Alongside engaging and sometimes emotional interviews — and scenes of the staff at work, scaring the punters silly with zombie brides and chainsaws — he created scenes inspired by the performers' dreams and nightmares.
The Mainland Touch was a popular regional news magazine programme broadcast from Christchurch between 1980 until 1990. In excerpts here, Christchurch Botanic Gardens welcomes the arrival of spring with a daffodil festival while local gardening groups prepare a floral carpet. The Wizard of Christchurch battles Telecom over the colour of phone boxes and joins opponents of a proposed restaurant tower in Victoria Square. Punting on the Avon is extended, and a cockatoo hitches a ride in the garden city.
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).