When Forgotten Silver — the story of pioneer filmmaker Colin McKenzie — unspooled on 29th October 1995, in a Sunday TV slot normally reserved for drama, many believed the fable was fact. Controversy ensued as a public reacted (indignant, thrilled) to having the wool pulled over their eyes. Costa Botes, who originated the mockumentary, later made this doco, looking at the construction of McKenzie's epic, tragic, yet increasingly ridiculous story. He interviews co-conspirator Peter Jackson and other pranksters, and they muse on the film's priceless impact.
This documentary from director Costa Botes (The Last Dogs of Winter, Forgotten Silver) explores the life of Angie Meiklejohn. Growing up, Meiklejohn and her siblings spent time in Bert Potter’s alternative lifestyle settlement Centrepoint, where they suffered sexual abuse. Through the lens of Meiklejohn’s experiences as both child and adult, Botes explores the dynamics of abuse, and how its victims are impacted. Says Botes: "whatever her past hurts, Angie is an engaging and loveable human being." Angie debuted at the 2018 New Zealand International Film Festival.
Act of Kindness follows the search for one very helpful man, in a country of 11 million people. In 1999 Kiwi Sven Pannell arrived penniless in Rwanda, after bribing himself out of a worrying encounter with rebel militia in Burundi. He was saved by a street beggar who spoke perfect English. Eight years later Pannell got the chance to return to Rwanda with camera in hand, and say thanks — if only he can track his saviour down. Directed by Pannell and Costa Botes (Forgotten Silver), the documentary is a portrait of compassion, obsession, and a nation recovering from tragedy.
Planning and preparing dinner becomes a sweaty ordeal in the second episode of reality show/'social experiment', Pioneer House. The family have moved into 2 Elgin St and are dealing with the hands-on chores involved in running a typical lower middle class household in 1900. The summer heat makes a trip to the shops clad in corsets and petticoats "like running a marathon", and 17 year old Anneke feels stifled by the restrictions placed on young women of the day. On the plus side, Michael appreciates the extra 'family time' this new/old life is giving him.
NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection offers up the sights and sounds of a city edged by ocean, and famed for its music. Dunedin is a bracing mixture of old and new: of Victorian buildings and waves of fresh-faced students, many of them carrying guitars. As Dave Cull reflects in his introduction, it is a city where distance is no barrier to creativity and innovation.
The concept for this 2005 Touchdown reality show involved sending a bevy of Kiwi beauties to outback Australia, so they can compete to become "the ultimate Kiwi chick" (and win a $100,000 prize). In this second episode the girls discover that the week’s immunity winner (the 'Boomerang Babe') will have to pick a trio of contestants, so the local townsfolk can vote which one to eliminate. The girls must help host Vadim Dale (reality romance show Outback Jack) brand a calf, where things get bloody; spend a night in the outback alone; and negotiate a hay bale challenge.
Company Touchdown Productions dominated Kiwi reality television in the early 2000s, thanks to a run of shows (Miss Popularity, The Chair, DIY Rescue). In 2004 they produced The Player, which featured a group of bachelors housed together in an apartment, exuberantly ‘playing’ the Auckland dating scene. Hosted by model Nicky Watson, the series was short-lived. Later Duncan Greive of website The Spinoff would proclaim that the show "remains one of the earthiest and most brilliantly base moments in New Zealand’s television history.”
The concept for this 2004 reality series involved 10 bachelors trying to succeed on the Auckland dating scene, while overcoming specially set challenges. Hosted by model Nicky Watson, and produced by Touchdown supremo Julie Christie, this first episode sees Watson pick the 10 (from 15 who began) who will move into the bachelor pad. It introduces the lewd lines, lingerie and phallic fruit that saw The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive describe the show as "an affront to humanity – but man, was it ever fun to watch". Caution: the content from the ‘lads' mag’ era is PC free.
Based on an overseas format, Touchdown reality series Captive was based on a simple idea: five strangers move into a penthouse apartment and as long as they want to stay in the competition, they cannot leave. Luckily there is motivation, in the form of prizes worth up to $40,000. Contestants are quizzed not only on trivia, but on their fellow housemates. At the end of each episode, whoever fared worst in the quiz is evicted from the house empty-handed, and replaced. Alliances are formed and new friendships broken as they attempt to get to know each other.
Film director Roger Donaldson and motor racing legend Steve Millen both began making their mark in New Zealand, before making the move to California. The first Coming Home episode sees them at work in the USA, and visiting old haunts in Aotearoa. Donaldson shoots the effects-heavy Dante's Peak and prepares $100 million thriller Thirteen Days, while Millen hits the race track, in-between running his custom car parts company. Later he returns to the farm near Auckland, where his need for speed began on the family tractor. Donaldson heads to Auckland and Queenstown.