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.
This collection celebrates a decade of NZ On Screen, and the most viewed titles for each of those 10 years. Britten – Backyard Visionary was the first; its popularity continues today. The naughty kea crashed the site the next year, and of course you must remember: "always blow on the pie". The loss of some legends saw user numbers swell, and you just can’t get enough of great ads. To mark the anniversary, check out pieces by past and present NZ On Screeners Brenda Leeuwenberg and Paul Stanley Ward, NZ On Air's Jane Wrightson and ex board member Roger Horrocks.
Writer/director Hayden J Weal uses chronesthesia (aka mental time travel — the ability to think into the past and future) as a catalyst for romantic comedy in this low-budget feature. Weal stars as a young Wellington barista whose routine is disrupted by mysterious messages, dreams and strangers, plus a flurry of odd coincidences. The cast includes Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Julian Dennison and Cohen Holloway, plus Michelle Ny (Reservoir Hill). Titled Love and Time Travel outside of Aotearoa, the movie debuted in the Wellington edition of the 2016 NZ Film Festival.
After tackling documentaries about sporting legends and surveillance, Kiwi director Justin Pemberton (Chasing Great) began his most ambitious project yet. Inspired by the brick-sized bestseller by French economist Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century examines the disproportionate amount of cash and power wielded by a small global minority. The French-Kiwi co-production blends talking heads (including Piketty and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz) and pop culture imagery of the rich and famous. Jean-Benoît Dunckel (from French duo Air) supplies the music.
From humble beginnings in Wellington's working class Island Bay, Ron Brierley went on to become one of New Zealand’s wealthiest businessmen. This documentary tells the story of his meteoric rise. At its peak, Brierley’s company BIL held assets worth billions, and had 150,000+ Kiwi investors. Brierley gives his take on being ousted from BIL, and the company’s mixed fortunes in the 90s. Among those interviewed are Bob Jones and Roger Douglas. After leaving BIL, Brierley moved on to investment company Guiness Peat Group, and in 2012, Mercantile Investment Company.
This Bill Ralston-fronted two part documentary looks at Auckland’s great family business empires: the Nathans (merchants and brewers), Myers (brewers), Wilsons and Hortons (newspapers) and Winstones (construction). With fortunes made in the pioneering days of the 19th Century, they created products that became household names and dynasties that dominated local commerce. Most failed to evolve and were picked off by the corporate raiders of the 1980s, but they left behind a legacy of fine homes, major buildings and community bequests.
Sharply contrasting lives in the South-West feature in this episode of director Geoff Steven's USA road trip. Cosmetics millionaire Mary Kay Ash talks about her empire from her pink, Liberace-inspired Dallas mansion; while business efficiency guru Michael George seeks to make American industry more competitive. Meanwhile, in the New Mexico desert, Pueblo Indians attempt to reconcile ancient traditions with the nuclear arms industry that employs them; and, in El Paso, a second generation Mexican-American border guard intercepts illegal immigrants.
Keen to discover "the real essence" of his country, filmmaker Ryan Fielding spent two months travelling around New Zealand with camera in hand. The short film that Fielding came up with is a mosaic of Aotearoa and its people, dotted with moments of beauty and celebration, but precious few signs of wealth: rundown shops, quiet pubs, children larking around in the ocean, and a number of locals who appear slightly worse for wear.
Sam Hunt is New Zealand’s best known and most visible contemporary poet; and, in an archive excerpt from this feature length documentary, Ginette McDonald calls him “the most impersonated man in New Zealand”. Director Tim Rose, who has known Hunt since he was a boy, decided too little was known about him beyond his flamboyant, public persona. So Rose spent four years making this documentary — mixing a wealth of archive material with interviews with Hunt, and those who know him best, and new footage of him reading his work and performing with David Kilgour.
Bernard Kearns presents a survey of NZ life in the 30s in this episode of the National Film Unit series The Years Back (“people and events that shaped the New Zealand of today”). The documentary includes a wealth of footage taken from NFU stock: the aftermath of the 1931 Napier earthquake, the Depression (as Kearns bluntly states, “there was a lot of misery in the 30s”), and runner Jack Lovelock’s gold medal triumph at the Berlin Olympics. There’s also editorial flair as King George VI’s lavish coronation ceremony is juxtaposed with the A&P show back home.