Heartland host Gary McCormick hunkers down in the Catlins ("New Zealand the way it used to be"), the wild southern coast stretching between Invercargill and Balclutha. After watching the action at school sports day, he discovers a rural community revolving around family, church and pub. Interviewees include a Metallica-loving teenager who has just bought his second car, for cruising; and spoon collector Kitty 'Granny' Burgess. He also visits a rugged Long Point farm to check out rare yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho), who look very punk during moulting season.
Director Nic Gorman won best short at the 2013 NZ Film Awards for zombie tale Here Be Monsters. With his first feature he shifts horror genres to the psychological thriller, as a mysterious new arrival (Vinnie Bennett) disturbs subantarctic island life for a husband and wife scientist team (Fantail's Sophie Henderson and Siege's Mark Mitchinson). Human Traces debuted at the 2017 NZ International Film Festival. NZ Herald reviewer George Fenwick praised the "stunning cinematography" and "impressive performances", arguing they helped produce a "fine debut" for Gorman.
Directed by Robert Sarkies (Scarfies, Out of the Blue), and written with brother Duncan (from the latter's novel) Two Little Boys is a tale of the misadventures of two Invercargill bogans. When a Scandinavian tourist fatally meets Nige's fender, Nige (Conchord Bret McKenzie) runs to best mate Deano (Aussie comedian Hamish Blake) for help. "Trouble is, Deano's not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis." Mateship is challenged by security guard flatmate Gav, a rogue sea lion and some dunderhead decision making. The black comedy opened in NZ on Sept 20 2012.
Bret McKenzie is one half of musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. McKenzie and Jemaine Clement found international fame with the cult HBO comedy, which followed the duo's fictional efforts to 'make it' in New York. An Oscar-winner after writing songs for The Muppets (2011), McKenzie's screen career began after a brief role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy helped win him a cult following.
Robert Sarkies made his first film at age 10. His feature debut was 1999 hit Scarfies, followed by Out of the Blue, an acclaimed dramatisation of the Aramoana murders. Sarkies followed it with TV's This is Not My Life and black comedy Two Little Boys, based on a novel by his brother Duncan. Since then he has directed Moa-nominated TV movie Consent, and multi award-winning Jean Batten biopic Jean.
Award-winning cinematographer John Chrisstoffels has been training his camera on Christchurch and its inhabitants for more than two decades: in music videos for record label Flying Nun, short films, movies, and occasional documentaries. The sometime director has taught film at Canterbury University's School of Fine Arts since 2002.
Known for his many live tours as a poet, debater and speaker, Kiwi legend Gary McCormick has made a host of appearances on New Zealand television. His work on the talk show McCormick and long-running series Heartland helped make him television's most popular presenter in a 1999 newspaper poll.
Ken Sparks has a BA in Music and Drama. His introduction to editing was as an assistant on Vincent Ward classic In Spring One Plants Alone. Since then he has edited drama, dance films, many documentaries, music videos and commercials. Sparks has won three NZ TV awards, including for James K Baxter doco The Road to Jerusalem and as co-editor of acclaimed quake chronicle When a City Falls. He also directed on hit series Heartland.
Swami Hansa (sometimes credited as Anand Hansa or Malcolm Nish) was operating a camera in 1962, the day TV began broadcasting in Dunedin. Hansa has been shooting ever since, his work ranging across natural history, human interest and the arts. His CV includes many episodes of the long-running Heartland, plus such noted docos as Birth, Kiwi - A Natural History and Horizon doco The Man Who Moved Mountains, made for the BBC.
William Grieve is a producer with more than two decades experience in documentaries, factual series, commercials and feature films. Grieve has worked extensively with filmmaker Bruce Morrison and entertainer Gary McCormick.