The band plays a hypnotic groove in a room washed with red and then blue light as a woman with an expression of grim foreboding walks down a beach carrying two bags, towards a scarecrow with a mannequin’s face standing in the sand. Vertical scratches mark the film of the band’s performance, as the woman unpacks the contents of her bags and turns the area beneath the scarecrow into a shrine which she kneels before. But then, as the band briefly breaks free of its groove, she circles the scarecrow, wrestles with it and drags it towards the sea.
On 8 June 1987 Nuclear-free New Zealand became law. This collection honours the principles and people behind the policy. Prime Minister Norman Kirk put it like this: "I don't think New Zealand's a doormat. I think we've got rights — we're a small country but we've got equal rights, and we're going to assert them." In the backgrounder, journalist Tim Watkin explores the twists and turns of Aotearoa's nuclear history.
Without the NZ Film Commission, the list of Kiwi features and short films would be far shorter. In celebration of the Commission turning 40, this collection gathers up movie clips, plus documentaries and news coverage of Kiwi films. Among the directors to have had a major leg up from the Commission are Geoff Murphy, Peter Jackson, Taika Waititi and Gaylene Preston. In the backgrounders, Preston remembers the days when the commission was up an old marble staircase, and producer John Barnett jumps 40 years and beyond, to an age when local stories were seen as fringe.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
One October night In 1938 Orson Welles famously fooled radio listeners into believing that the United States was under attack from martians. New Zealand’s War of the Worlds moment arguably came in 1995, when directors Costa Botes and Peter Jackson unleashed moviemaker Colin McKenzie on an audience of unsuspecting patriots. Forgotten Silver joined a sly tradition of on screen Kiwi leg-pulling: from turkeys in gumboots and John Clarke as a rock star, to fence-playing farmer musicians, phallic molluscs and Māori porn stars.
Ray Columbus hosted his first television show at 19; at that point he'd already been singing in a band for around five years. After Ray Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', he spent two years playing music in the United States. The song and style defined the era for a generation of local music fans. Columbus later returned to work as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager, becoming a Kiwi showbiz legend in the process. This career-spanning collection celebrating Ray Columbus on screen offers a nod to the mod.
Love Story sees director Florian Habicht finding a movie, a plot, and a beautiful Ukranian on the streets of New York. The offbeat romance is part love letter to NYC, part the story of Florian and Masha, and possibly part true: with the script to this genre-bending tryst being written before our eyes, via story ideas from real life New Yorkers. Love Story won Aotearoa awards for best film and director, and raves from Variety and the Herald’s Peter Calder, who described Auckland Film Festival audiences gasping at the "strange, surprising and wildly romantic ideas sprinkled through it".
This Christmas 1989 episode of the TVNZ teen magazine show sees newbie reporter Nadia Neave on Stewart Island to meet a crayfisherman, an artist and a conservation worker. Reporter Kerre McIvor (nee Woodham) quizzes David Lange about quitting as PM, as he prepares to drive in a street race. Natalie Brunt interviews Cher songwriter Diane Warren. Dr Watt (DJ Grant Kereama) looks at solvent abuse, and future Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan joins a trio of young actors (including Tandi Wright) to give tips on overseas travel. Graeme Tetley (Ruby and Rata) was a series writer.
The final episode of director Geoff Steven's USA road trip provides a number of different takes on the American experience. A mother working as croupier in Reno, Nevada, puts a more modern and respectable face on the state’s previously disreputable gambling industry. An 82 year old professional banjo player in Virginia City recalls his days as a cowboy, while a TV reporter still rides the range on his days off. An upmarket health spa is flourishing in Tucson, Arizona; and, in Florida, Miami has been reshaped by a massive influx of refugees from Cuba.
This episode of director Geoff Steven's USA road trip is another study in contrasts. In North Dakota, there’s impressive access to an underground missile control room staffed by highly trained officers who hope they never have to do the job for which they've prepared. Nearby, the members of a determinedly pacifist, Christian, socialist Hutterite community make for unlikely neighbours. There's also an exploration of small town values as Gilby celebrates its centenary on the 4th of July — while a John Birch Society member provides a less festive note.