Directed by Tony Williams, this documentary is a strong example of how to make engaging television out of a brief that might easily have been overly earnest. Nominally “a history of service clubs in New Zealand”, the footloose film explores a rich variety of organisations created to bring people together: from accordion players and air hostesses to flying saucer believers and Rotarians. The film celebrates a fundamental human need to ‘get together’. Poet Denis Glover provides sardonic commentary. It won the best programme of year Feltex Award.
“Mental subnormality here is no higher than in other countries. Still it strikes more than one in a thousand.” The subjects of this 1964 NFU documentary are intellectually disabled patients (mostly children) at a Levin psychopaedic hospital, and the trainee nurses who care for them. The narration embodies contemporary healthcare ideas where “retarded” children were seen as patients to be kept “happy among their fellows”, and sheltered from the outside world. By the 90s, institutions like this one (later renamed Kimberley) were overtaken by assisted living.
This episode of archive-compiled The Years Back series sees presenter Bernard Kearns exploring how New Zealand coped on the home front as World War II expanded into South East Asia and the Pacific. Access to imports was hampered and rationing bit. Fuel and rubber shortages are overcome with novel approaches and farmland becomes the garden for our allies. The episode also examines how industry switched from civilian needs to making war materials. The Home Guard changes from a bit of a laugh to deadly seriousness as the threat grows of invasion by Japan.
The American dream of so many New Zealand bands became a reality for Steriogram. In 1999 Whangarei’s Jake Adams and Brad Carter teamed up with Tyson Kennedy and Tim Youngson of Auckland. Kennedy, the drummer, impressed with his rapping, and they became known for manic energy, melodies and putting the fun into funk. Early use of the net built a wide fan base, and after a US talent scout saw a video for ‘White Trash’ online they signed to Capitol Records. Their 2004 debut Schmack! also contained ‘Walkie Talkie Man’; 2010 saw their third album, Taping the Radio.
Director Rachel Davies subverts expectations in a confronting film about a young boy's relationship with an older man. In one continuous piece-to-camera shot a boy recounts his first sexual experiences at a scout camp. What is the relationship between the ambiguous identity of the subject (boy or girl? why does he have a man's voice?) and the gravity of what's being said? This intriguing confessional marked an impressive debut for Davies, who was only 21 when she made Sweetness. It received awards at the Sydney and San Francisco Film Festivals.
While in Tahiti to scout for locations for a film (ultimately unrealised) on the mutiny of the HMS Bounty, legendary British director David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago) became fascinated by a lost anchor jettisoned by Captain Cook in 1773. Produced for New Zealand’s South Pacific Television, this film follows the anchor’s discovery — by River Kwai bridge exploder Eddie Fowlie — and salvage. A rare 'documentary' credit for Lean, the film was written by his regular scripting collaborator Robert Bolt; Kiwi Kelly Tarlton provides expert dive guidance.
After roughly five years as a member of all woman band Cassandra's Ears, Jan Hellriegel launched her solo career with this 1992 single. The much admired video captures a seductive performance from the singer, and cuts it together with smoky pool halls, leopard print, classical sculptures, night driving and boy scouts — unlikely slow motion images, which nevertheless suit the raw emotion of the song. The clip was directed by Chris Mauger, who also utilised black and white on Ngaire chart-topper 'To Sir with Love'. 'The Way I Feel' got to number four on the NZ charts.
This educational video was made by the NFU for the National Mountain Safety Council to promote awareness of bush safety. After a blackboard science lesson (check out a bearded Ray Henwood) things get interesting. A fictional trip into the bush turns into a Stubbies-clad 70s Kiwi version of the Blair Witch Project as we're told that one of the group will not survive the night, picked off by that fearsome killer: exposure. The message is serious, but the doom-laden tone induced titters in school classrooms and scout halls throughout NZ.
This documentary tells the stories of the New Zealand soldiers who were part of the identity-defining Gallipoli campaign in World War I. In the ill-fated mission to take a piece of Turkish coastline, 2721 New Zealanders died with 4752 wounded. As part of research, every one of the then-surviving Gallipoli veterans living in New Zealand was interviewed, with 26 finally filmed. Shot at a barren, rocky Gallipoli before the advent of Anzac Day tourism, this important record screened on Easter Sunday 1984, and won a Feltex Award for Best Documentary.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.