In 1979, Red Mole was New Zealand's best-known alternative theatre troupe. During two seasons in New York, they wowed audiences with their Dada-influenced shows. "All possible elements of theatre and spectacle are employed by the skilful members of the group." (The Villager). In this 16mm film directed for the National Film Unit by soon-to-be-famous actor Sam Neill, the group takes a surreal journey through actual and imaginary New Zealand. Neill would later collaborate with editor Judy Rymer on Cinema of Unease.
Shoes is a refugee's story told with rhythm and shoes. A woman seeking shelter in a new country arrives at a railway station troubled by turbulent thoughts of her past. Walking past a shop window, she sees some familiar-looking, worn-out shoes which trigger more memories. Pairs of dancing shoes eloquently recreate her journey from dance hall to war zone. Directed by Sally Rodwell, founding member of alternative theatre troupe Red Mole, Shoes screened at international festivals including Montreal and Hof.
After making music overseas as part of theatre troupe Red Mole, Jan Preston and Neil Hannan headed home and founded the band that would be known as Coup D'Etat. Preston took lead vocals on this, their debut single. The video — by cinematographer Leon Narbey — sees her performing in a little red dress, while ex Hello Sailor guitarist Harry Lyon continues the colour theme. Then they head out on the highway. 'No Music on My Radio' proved a sadly apt title: local radio showed little interest. The band soon hit the airwaves (and the top 10), with 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine'.
Coup D'Etat was launched by two members of theatre troupe Red Mole (Jan Preston and Neil Hannan), who were soon joined by guitarist Harry Lyon (on a break from Hello Sailor). They are best remembered for Preston's single 'No Music on my Radio' and Lyon's hit 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine' (a NZ Music Awards Single of the Year). After one album they disbanded in 1982. Preston composed soundtracks and reinvented herself as a boogie-woogie pianist; Lyon returned to Hello Sailor; Hannan founded label SDL Music.
This short documentary about freestyle skiing was directed for the NZ Tourist and Publicity Department by Sam Neill (who would shortly achieve fame as an actor). This was one of several docos directed by Neill while at the National Film Unit; other subjects included the Red Mole theatre troupe and architect Ian Athfield. The skiers put on daring displays of their 'art' in locations including Mount Hutt, Queenstown and Tongariro National Park. 70s snow-styles (and beards) abound. The film was translated into French, Japanese, Italian, German and Spanish.
Coup D'Etat were a short-lived band featuring Harry Lyon (during a Hello Sailor sabbatical) and Jan Preston (from travelling theatre act Red Mole). The band's second single is an ode to "the dangers of having too much fun". The bright, breezy number was written by Lyon, with the familiar Ponsonby reggae beat favoured by Hello Sailor. Peaking at nine on the charts, it won Best Single at the 1981 NZ Music Awards. The pedestrians in Leon Narbey’s video are near Auckland's Civic Theatre on Queen Street. In the same period, Narbey shot the short film of the same name.
The work of writer Martin Edmond rarely slots into easy geographical or stylistic boxes. After making his screen debut as co-writer of Illustrious Energy — an evocative portrait of Chinese gold prospectors in Central Otago — Edmond has gone on to explore tales of outsiders in another three feature films, and a number of books.
One of New Zealand's best known film actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of more than 60 features includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to an axe-weilding settler in The Piano.
Richard Turner’s work as a director began with poetry-based works, pioneering Māori works for television, and Squeeze (1980), New Zealand’s first gay-themed feature. Since then he has made films largely in Australia.
John Reid made his feature debut with an acclaimed adaptation of Roger Hall play Middle Age Spread. Since then he has directed three more features ranging from raw comedy to moody arthouse pieces, plus a host of television programmes and commercials. Reid went on to become head tutor at Wellington's New Zealand Film and Television School.