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.
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.
The incredible true story of how Burt Munro, an ageing oddball from Invercargill, took his home-engineered motorbike to America and won a land speed record. Director Roger Donaldson's passion project marked his first locally made film in two decades. Variety described it as "like a geriatric Rocky on wheels”, while 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 NZ's highest-grossing local film — until Boy in 2010.
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.
In the late 1980s, Kiwi inventor John Britten developed and built a revolutionary racing motorcycle. He pursued his dream all the way to Daytona International Speedway; in 1991, as an unlikely underdog, he came second against the biggest and richest manufacturers in the world. Britten: Backyard Visionary documents the maverick motorcycle designer as he and his crew rush to create an even better bike for the next Daytona. But when they get to Florida, another all-nighter is required to fix an untested vehicle which includes at least ten major innovations.
“For three days, Wellington, New Zealand will become the Monte Carlo of the South Pacific”. Monaco Monza Macao Wellington follows a champion saloon car team (BMW Schnitzer M3) racing in 1989's Nissan Mobil 500 Wellington street race. From their arrival from Macao, to crashes, dramatic victory and a Coromandel wind-down, the documentary goes behind the scenes of a race team on the international circuit. Features interviews with team manager Charlie Lamm, drivers (Emanuele Pirro, Roberto Ravaglia), and a young Jude Dobson as interviewer.