The bid to raise the level of Fiordland’s Lake Manapōuri (to provide hydro-electricity for an aluminum smelter) resulted in controversy between 1959 and 1972. This film charts a (still-timely) debate as arguments for industrial growth and cheap energy vie with views advocating for ecological values. New Zealand’s first large-scale environmental campaign ensued, and its “damn the dam” victory was a spur for the modern conservation movement — drawing an unprecedented petition, Forest and Bird, and figures like farmer Ron McLean and botanist Alan Mark into the fray.
Roger Donaldson is notable for spearheading the New Zealand film renaissance with Sleeping Dogs (1977). He has been busy directing in Hollywood for much of the period since. Donaldson's first Kiwi story since acclaimed drama Smash Palace (1981) was Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) — the most successful New Zealand film on home soil until the arrival of Taika Waititi's Boy in 2010.
Former journalist Nevan Rowe made a high profile big screen acting debut as Gloria, the estranged wife of Sam Neill’s Smith in landmark feature Sleeping Dogs (1977). She also co-starred in 1980 kids movie Nutcase, as mad scientist Evil Eva. Rowe worked off-screen in casting and as a production manager, and in 1989 directed short film Gordon Bennett, starring Andy Anderson. She passed away in April 2016.
Phillip Gordon began his screen career with 70s soap Close to Home, then won fame in the mid 80s with two different roles: playing conman Cyril Kidman in hit period comedy Came a Hot Friday, and starring in Wellington-set TV series Inside Straight. He went on to act on both sides of the Tasman.