One of Wellington’s leading 60s bands present a dark and troubling tale of revenge via voodoo doll. The clip — made for the Studio One TV show, a regular Avengers' gig — incongruously takes its cues from music video precursors like early Beatles films and The Monkees TV series (where the default position was zany and madcap). It was shot around Oriental Bay, with one fleeting pre-Te Papa harbour vista — but the focus is mainly on the band’s antics. The Avengers gamely enter into the spirit of it all, although four on a motor scooter looks decidedly dodgy.
This selection — in partnership with the NZ Film Commission — showcases award-winning examples of Kiwi short filmmaking. From the the tale of two men and a Cow, to the sleazy charms of The Lounge Bar, from Cannes to Ngawi; this collection is a celebration of "a beautiful medium for nailing an idea to the fence post with a piece of No.8 wire."
Writer/director Tusi Tamasese won multiple awards for his first feature, the Samoan-set The Orator - O Le Tulafale. This New Zealand-set follow-up involves a Samoan father whose daughter Ilisa returns home, pregnant and badly beaten. In her movie debut, Frankie Adams (Shortland Street) plays Ilisa, and Uelese Petaia (star of Albert Wendt adaptation Sons for the Return Home) is the boxer turned baker, in a tale of family, revenge and redemption. One Thousand Ropes debuted in the Panorama section of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, before opening in NZ and Samoa in March.
This 2018 feature follows ex gang leader Logan (Josh Calles), who has ditched gang life to raise his daughter. When she is murdered by a rival gang, Logan is forced to choose between vengeance – and all-out gang warfare – or forgiveness. Also starring Dark Horse discovery Wayne Hapi, the Gisborne-shot drama marks the first feature directed by pastor Tarry Mortlock. It is a modern interpretation of a true story about a girl killed by a raiding party in the 1800s. Broken is presented by City Impact Church, although Mortlock says he "never set out to make a Christian movie for Christians".
In this dark short film, an isolated rural idyll is spoiled when a farmhand (Craig Hall) gets ideas above his station. There will be blood in the barn as the interloper puts new meaning into dirty dairying, and upturns the lives of farmer Ken (Ross Harper), his wife (Sara Wiseman) and Ken’s simple sibling (Leighton Cardno). Director Andrew Bancroft’s earlier short Planet Man (an award-winner at Cannes) was set in a dark future; Home Kill takes the dystopia to the heartland with gothic horror glee, depicting farm life in a way that is unlikely to be endorsed by Fonterra.
Director John Laing followed acclaimed romance Other Halves with an equally stylish but very different big city tale: a thriller in which three orphans plan an international heist to avenge the killing of one of their fathers. The expected diet of shootings, skulduggery and globetrotting accents is enlived by side trips to Geneva, songs from romantic interest Jennifer Ward-Lealand, and a cast of villains to die for (Peter Bland, Ian Mune, Anzac Wallace, Grant Tilly). When Dangerous Orphans was sold in Europe it set an early record for a New Zealand film.
In director Gaylene Preston's genre-bending tale, Meg (Heather Bolton) buys a stylish old Jaguar so she can be more independent. While driving on a country road, she hears screams in the back – but there's no one there. In the excerpt above, she picks up a mysterious woman in the rain. Later she discovers that the woman was the car's previous owner, and she is missing. Now her killer might just be stalking Meg too. For their first, acclaimed feature, Preston and producer Robin Laing rented out local cinemas, conclusively proving that Mr Wrong had an audience.
Awatea, a young warrior, is enraged when his lover Te Po, a high-born chief's daughter, enters an arranged marriage. Retribution is swift and brutal. Set in the late 16th century and based on a Shakespeare sonnet ("my love is as a fever, longing still"), the storytelling of Te Po Uriuri is visceral, and suitably mythic in style. Ruru hoot, bloody patu gleam, and bodies and the oily black of the night are vividly shot by Waka Attewell. Directed by Toby Mills and filmed in te reo, it was selected for the Hamburg International Film Festival.
A party of returning raiders hauls a massive waka taua (war canoe) through dense Waitakere bush, driven by their brutally insistent chief towards safety. Two water-boys are crouched in the bow. One of them risks a bold act of compassion — towards the trophy prisoner tied to the stern. The impressively-produced portage has echoes of Werner Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo, but the story is palpably Māori. Directed by Tearepa Kahi, Taua won Best Short at National Geographic’s 2007 All Roads festival, and was selected for the Berlin, Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand festivals.
"This is me. This is my husband …" So narrates Evie as she watches her younger self labour with childbirth. "And this is the bitch who will one day steal him, and ruin my life." When the bitch is shown as an angelic six-year-old the tone is set for Katie Wolfe’s award-winning black comedy (her debut short as a director). Writer Kate McDermott’s wry narration moves between then and now, as fate delivers a less than wonderful life in Auckland suburbia. Selected for the Sundance Film Festival, This is Her was a breakout festival success, earning Wolfe notice as a filmmaker to watch.