The Southern Alps contain some of the youngest mountains in the world. In this NHNZ documentary awesome four seasons footage and sound design evoke the the tenuous richness of life in the vast, geologically dynamic landscape. Garrulous kea (the world’s only mountain parrot), Himalayan thar, “snow thrush” (crickets) and Mount Cook buttercup (the world’s largest) exist in a world of thundering avalanches and creaking glaciers. The classically filmed doco won a Merit Award at the 1993 International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula.
This documentary comprehensively traces the history of skiing and winter sports in New Zealand. From Mannering and Dixon, who used homemade skis in an almost-successful ascent of Mt Cook and the hut-building pioneers of recreational ski clubs in their pre-Gore-tex garb, to commercial ski fields and lifts, superb archive footage shows the advances. New Zealand teams at the Winter Olympics in Oslo in 1952 and Sarajevo 32 years later had come some way from the days when carrier pigeons were used to report snow conditions from Canterbury's ski fields to Christchurch.
Team Tibet tells the story of Thuten Kesang, who came to New Zealand in 1967, exiled from his Tibetan homeland, his family and his culture. Kesang was Aotearoa’s first Tibetan refugee. Filmed over 22 years by globetrotting filmmaker Robin Greenberg (Return of the Free China Junk), Kesang recounts his story, from his parents’ arrest in the wake of the 1959 uprising, to his advocacy for Tibetan environmental and political issues. He has become a point of contact for the global Tibetan community. The documentary was set to premiere at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival.
This 2002 documentary explores contemporary Aotearoa from the perspective of Kiwis from a range of different (non-Māori, non-Pākehā) ethnic backgrounds. These citizens speak frankly about their experience of assimilation and stereotyping in a supposedly multicultural society, where ethnic food is beloved — but not ethnic difference — and where jokes and racism blur. Directed by Libby Hakaraia, the documentary screened on TV3 as part of doco slot Inside New Zealand. It was a follow up to 2000's The Truth about Māori, which looked at identity from a Māori perspective.
In this 2015 short film, work tensions spill over at the offices of a baby and parenting magazine. But the real drama is far closer to home. Debbie (Denise Snoad) is sick of picking up the slack for Aroha (Anoushka Berkley), who seems to have her mind elsewhere. When Aroha mucks up a shipment, Debbie takes it to the boss. Writer/director Cathy MacDonald pits two seemingly disparate women against each other, only for the two to discover they're grappling with different sides of the same situation. Willa O'Neill (Scarfies) cameos as the boss.
In 2013 actor/director Peter Tait invited a team of actors to an Auckland bar to perform a read-through of a script, involving strange aquatic substances and opportunistic robbers. His plan: a film within a film where thespians and real-life bar owners play versions of themselves. At its heart, Not Set in Stone celebrates the actors — their talent, willingness to send themselves up, and generosity towards low budget projects like this one. The in-jokes include screen veteran Greg Johnson as a wannabe actor, and a final curtain cameo by Jacinda Ardern and Oscar Kightley.
In this documentary from 1991, two-time Olympic gold medalist Mark Todd searches for his second win at the 1989 Badminton Horse Trials. Adding to the challenge, he's riding a horse — The Irishman — that he's only just met. Elsewhere in Chris Wright's documentary Todd rides horses on his grandfather’s Cambridge farm, and has early unlikely success at Badminton riding Southern Comfort and legendary horse Charisma. Todd would go on to win several Olympic medals, before triumphing at Badminton for the fourth time in 2011 — nearly 30 years after his first success.
This hit Māori Television mockumentary series follows a couple of metro Māori men on a mission to claim a large inheritance…by finding a Māori bride. But in order to do so, the two 'plastic Māori' – property developer Tama Bradley (Boy's Cohen Holloway) and accountant George Alpert (singer/actor Matariki Whatarau) – must get in touch with their culture. In this first episode their unreadiness for the challenge is clear. NZ Herald's Alex Casey praised the show as a "hotbed for humour". Māori Bride was produced by the company behind webseries Auckland Daze and movie Waru.
This CGI animated short stars the Easter Bunny and Santa, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. 'Tis the season to be addled in writer Wayne Ching’s twisted tale of an embittered bunny (voiced by English comedian Harry Enfield) whose remorse for Santa’s presents is “fuelled by vodka and anti-depressants.” A tattooed Santa channels Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty, and the rhyming couplets are more AO Grinch than child friendly. Directed by Alan Dickson and made by Kiwi animation house Yukfoo, the black comedy screened at Tribeca and SXSW film festivals.
Ingeniously unfolding three tales in unison, Take 3 follows a trio of young asian-Kiwi actors on one horrifying day of auditions. Director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) mines comedy from the competitive, cookie-cutter world of casting, while questioning the way minority actors are asked to perpetuate old-fashioned stereotypes. The stars are My Wedding lead Michelle Ang, Katlyn Wong (comedy A Thousand Apologies), and Li Ming Hu (Shortland Street doctor Li Mei Chen). Take 3 won special mention in the Generation 14plus section at Berlin film fest.