In this two-part Lookout documentary from 1983, critic Hamish Keith explores how New Zealanders have housed themselves over the 20th Century. This first part builds to 1935: it begins in Auckland War Memorial Museum, with Keith asking how Kiwis would represent themselves if they were curators in the future. He presents the state house as the paramount Kiwi icon, and examines the journey from Victorian slums and Queen Street sewers to villas, bungalows and suburbia; plus the impact on housing of cars, consumerism, influenza, war, depression, and new ideas in town planning.
Performance group The Front Lawn (Don McGlashan, Harry Sinclair) stretch all of their prolific talents in this kooky Truly, Madly, Deeply style short. An eerie body-shifting whistled tune precedes Ben (McGlashan) finding his partner Linda (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) dead in bed. Then things get stranger: Linda’s ghost catches up with an old lover Victor (Sinclair) and faces a life-changing dilemma, while her body — awol with a tennis player on Tamaki Drive — has other plans. The surreal romance was made for TVNZ; it won best short at the 1990 NZ Screen Awards.
This 1949 NFU film visits Western Samoa. Director Stanhope Andrews surveys life in the “lotus land of the Pacific”, showing taro and coconut harvest, cooking in umu, and church and fale building, as “the flower-decked girls sing and dance beneath the palms”. The benefits of New Zealand’s then-administration are shown (eg. medical services, education) but the travelogue ignores earlier ignominious acts, such as the quarantine blunder that saw one in five Samoans fall to influenza. The Olemani Aufaipese (choir) provides the score. Samoa won independence in 1962.
Aimed at teaching kids to stay safe and do the best for themselves and their communities, Bryan and Bobby offers a friendly face to the New Zealand Police. In this episode Senior Constable Bryan Ward talks to Bobby, his talking pup partner, about the importance of serial numbers and keeping a record of them. With jokes a plenty, often about Bobby’s insatiable appetite, the show keeps things friendly and accessible. Bryan and Bobby have toured schools to promote the SNAP programme, which allows details of assets to be stored online. Children's TV veteran Suzy Cato produces.
This documentary follows Auckland-based, Italian-born pianist Flavio Villani as he prepares to play Sergei Rachmaninoff’s demanding Piano Concerto No. 2 in Italy — his debut performance as a soloist with an orchestra. Director Rebecca Tansley, who funded much of the documentary herself, tails Villani from four months before the recital that will challenge the prodigal son to affirm his career choice and sexuality, in front of his Italian ex-military father. When it debuted at the 2015 Auckland Film Festival, Crossing Rachmaninoff won a standing ovation.
This short is about a Dad and two sons who are rudderless in suburbia following the death of their wife/mother. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Lars, the film focuses on his relationship with his struggling father, who drowns his sorrows and covets the neighbour. Lars and Peter’s tender exploration of the murkiness of grief and adjustment saw it selected in competition at Cannes (2009). It was made in Denmark by Dunedin expat Daniel Borgman: “life is hard, but it’s also really beautiful, and film is a great medium in which to render that contrast”.
A light-hearted short film from director Peter Salmon, starring veteran performer Mark Clare (Clare achieved fame as the bungy jumper in the classic 1992 Instant Kiwi ad and is the singer for legendary NZ band The Newmatics). Here Clare plays a real estate agent with a penchant for song and dance who discovers he can make music by jumping on the creaky floorboards of an old villa. But wait, there's a punch line to this quirky little comedy that Roald Dahl would be proud of: a sinister surprise lies in wait beneath the floorboards.
“There are six of them: three school teachers, an architectural draughtsman, a student of anthropology and a bus mechanic.” This lively and light-hearted 1968 National Film Unit production profiles The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, who come together in Auckland to play in a villa, a recording studio, and at the Poles Apart Folk Club (where they would record a live album the same year). The band brought the sounds of Kentucky to New Zealand via a prolific run of albums, and regular appearances on 60s TV show The Country Touch. They turned professional in 1969.
Mortimer’s Patch was a popular drama series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) at work in the town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots; Don Selwyn is Sergeant Bob Storey. The series was NZ’s first police drama, and a rare local drama to top ratings. Mortimer's Patch was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.