NZ On Screen's Chinese in New Zealand Collection contains many pearls — from a run of impressive documentaries, to comedies and dramas that skewer stereotypes and explore relationships across cultures. Identity, family, colliding values and 19th century goldminers all make regular appearances, but they're only part of a far bigger story. Plus check out this backgrounder by Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Hilary Barry presents this episode from the third series of Great War Stories. The subject is Alexander Aitken, a veteran of World War l who would later become a world-renowned mathematician. Aitken wrote an acclaimed war memoir (Gallipoli to the Somme) which a student reads from at Aitken's old school, Otago Boys' High, on Anzac Day. The story of the violin he kept by his side at Gallipoli is told, and a musical arrangement of Aitken's is played. The short documentaries were made for the centenary of World War l, and screened during TV3’s nightly news.
Made for television, this 13-part National Film Unit series aimed to showcase "people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today". The Bernard Kearns-presented series is mostly composed of footage taken from NFU stock. Fascinating early film clips are accompanied by interviews with elderly gents and ladies who reminisce about events as they unfold on the screen. This edition focuses on the opening decades of the 20th century; the nostalgia takes a dark turn when bow tie-wearing Kearns discusses World War I and provides alarming statistics of loss of life.
Lawrence 'Curly' Blyth volunteered for World War 1 despite being under age. In 1916 his rifle brigade was sent to the Western Front, where he fought for 23 days amongst the mud of the Somme. In the final weeks of WW1 Blyth helped liberate the strategic French town of Le Quesnoy from German forces, later winning a French Legion of Honour for his efforts. In this documentary his grandson, director David Blyth, uses interviews and stock footage to chronicle the times at war of his bossy yet personable grandad, who died in 2001, aged 105.
After her brother joined the army early in World War ll, Doris Coppell decided she’d also sign up when she could. And as she says, “the thought of all those lovely sailors was tempting, so I thought I’d opt for the navy.” And indeed she met her future husband while serving at the HMS Philomel training base in Devonport. Just six weeks later she married the British sailor in a borrowed wedding dress. A spritely 92 when interviewed, Coppell recalls the ups and downs of service life, and the course of her post-war years in the UK with affection. Coppell passed away on 16 July 2016.
In a turbulent media landscape, director/producer Kay Ellmers feels that the long-form documentary is still powerful. Her screen CV includes acclaimed doco He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, and popular series like Marae Kai Masters and Mīharo. Ellmers is Managing Director of Tūmanako Productions, and a consultant on documentary and factual programming for Māori Television.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.
Gary Scott began his television career as an assignment editor on TV3's news desk, before joining Ninox Films as a writer and researcher. He directed documentaries then joined Wellington company Gibson Group in 2001, where he has produced or executive produced a slew of factual programmes and series, including Kiwis at War, Here to Stay and NZ Detectives.
Annie Goldson, NZOM, is probably New Zealand's most awarded documentary filmmaker. Her work — including the feature-length An Island Calling, Brother Number One and Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web — often examines the political through the personal. Goldson's films have played widely overseas, and won awards in New Zealand, England, Spain, France, the Philippines and the United States.
Producer Meg Douglas began in television as a teenage reporter, before heading behind the camera as an adult. Since then she has worked in a variety of roles — from researcher, writer and production manager, to producer and director. In 2005, Douglas started her own production company, Scottie Productions, which has netted several awards.