It seems a fascination with going fast is built into human DNA. Covering distance in the shortest amount of time has long captured our imagination. From muscle-powered freaks of nature (thoroughbred horses, falcons, Peter Snell) to motorhead mayhem, from Formula 1 legends to front-running design innovation, this collection celebrates the particularly Kiwi 'need for speed'.
Love, Speed and Loss is an extended documentary about racer Kim Newcombe, who turned heads in the 70s on a König motorbike he developed and designed himself. Built around home movie footage and interviews with his charismatic, straight-talking widow Janeen, the film follows the couple's travels across Europe, and triumph on the track. Newcombe was killed racing in 1973, and posthumously finished second in that year's World 500cc Championship. Love, Speed and Loss won best documentary at the 2007 Qantas TV Awards and Air NZ Screen gongs for documentary, directing, and editing.
A triumph of imagination and creativity over budget, this now classic Jonathan Ogilvie clip cost just $250 to make, and the song is probably their best known. Coloured cellophane and a projector created the far out psychedelic look on the band members’ underwater heads; the performance shots capture the Fits on the back of a truck, going through the Lyttelton tunnel. The ever-cool Shayne Carter snarl is supported by an almost-mullet — apparently self-styled.
NZ On Screen's Car Collection is loaded with vehicles of every make and vintage, as a line-up of legendary Kiwis get behind the wheel — some acting the part. The talent includes Bruce McLaren, Scott Dixon, Bruno Lawrence, a clever canine, and a great many bent fenders. Onetime car show host Danny Mulheron tells tales, and picks out some personal favourites here.
Arts Icon Geoff Murphy is the trumpet-player who got New Zealand yelling in the movie aisles. His road movie Goodbye Pork Pie was the blockbuster hit of the NZ film renaissance, and he completed an unsurpassed triple punch with Utu and Bruno Lawrence classic The Quiet Earth. From student heists to hobbits this collection pays tribute to the laconic wild man of Kiwi film.
Bad Dates peeks into a fictional evening of speed dating; those evenings where singles meet prospective partners on fast-rotation. This quick-paced short turns the idea into tragi-comedy, where, in the vital opening bouts of small-talk, a series of prospective relationships go down in flames before they've even begun. Writer/director Grant LaHood democratically gives equal screen time amongst the ensemble cast (made up of graduating students from Toi Whakaari) and to a range of idiosyncrasies ranging from the infantile to the sex-obsessed.
It was a Kiwi that invented the jet-boat, so it is probably unsurprising that at the time of this film’s production New Zealand teams had won Mexico's Rio Balsas Marathon three times. Directed by Derek Wright, the award-winning NFU doco showcases what was then the longest jet-boat race yet staged: a five-day 1000km race across NZ, with the locals putting their trophy on the line. The race hits the rapids and — despite the odd tree stump — speeds past scenery on six rivers (from the Whanganui to the Waimakariri), Lake Brunner, and through the surf to Sumner Beach.
Inspired by the ageing Burt Munro — who took his home-engineered motorbike to America, and won a land speed record — this passion project was Roger Donaldson's first locally made film in two decades. Variety called it a "geriatric Rocky on wheels”; Roger Ebert praised Anthony Hopkins' performance as one of the most endearing of his career. The result sold to 126 countries, spent five weeks in the Australian top six, and became Aotearoa's highest-grossing local film — until Boy in 2010. Alongside an excerpt and making of material, Costa Botes writes about the film here.
This documentary is about champion speedway driver Ivan Mauger. Mauger powered and slid his motorbike around oval tracks to a record six individual world speedway titles from 1968-79. Interviews with Mauger and his family cover his long career, from his boy racer beginnings - he muses that in Spain the heroes are bullfighters, but in Christchurch they were speedway riders - to his Western Springs farewell and a tribute from David Lange. His focus on winning comes through, "if you show me a good loser you show me someone who consistently loses".
"New Zealand congratulates Peter Snell, one of the fastest men in the world." Middle distance runner Snell sets two world records on the grass track at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in the 800 yards and half mile. "I was almost horrified at the pace ... I was had it by the time I reached the back straight ... I just went on on the thought of that world record." He reflects on a relaxing trip to Milford Sound, and champion coach Arthur Lydiard is interviewed. Also featured is the 1962 swimming champs at Naenae Olympic Pool under floodlights.