Mojo Mathers was New Zealand's first deaf MP, and faced considerable hurdles just doing her job. In this short documentary from the Loading Docs series, Mathers talks about her time as an MP and her desire to ensure deaf and disabled people can fully engage in democracy in Aotearoa. In 2017 Mathers drafted the Election Access Fund Bill, to provide a contestable fund for those with disabilities who wanted to run for Parliament. In May 2018, Mathers' Bill passed its first reading with unanimous support. Director Jason Boberg has direct experience of disability.
Young scientist Logan Williams became "infatuated" with an invasive algae called didymo, while studying at university. Outraged that his beloved South Canterbury rivers had been destroyed by this "rock snot", Williams developed an idea to turn it into recyclable consumer goods, such as plates and cups. Williams was a 2018 finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year Award; he has also developed polarised contact lenses for people with photosensitive epilepsy. This Loading Docs short documentary is directed by commercials producer Jane Mahoney.
Producer Bridget Ikin has long been a champion for women in the screen industry. Working on both sides of the Tasman, she has collaborated with many influential creatives including Jane Campion, Alison Maclean, Stewart Main, Australian director Sarah Watt, and writers Eleanor Catton and Emily Perkins.
Catherine Fitzgerald cut her teeth producing high profile short films. She collaborated with Taika Waititi on his Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night and with Vincent Ward on his feature Rain of the Children. More recently Fitzgerald produced two features with director Tusi Tamasese.
Greenies meet The Castle in this 2014 film from first-time feature director Anton Steel. The Z-Nail Gang tells the story of locals joining to fight plans to dig an opencast goldmine in nearby bush — using nails in car tyres, Santa suits and a rap song, instead of monkey wrenches. The making of this down-home take on eco-activism was also a grassroots effort, with the film made by harnessing community support in the Bay of Plenty town of Te Puke. At the 2014 NZ Film Awards it was nominated for Best Self-Funded Film, and Best Supporting Actress (Vanessa Rare).
Inspired by the mindbending tales of The Twilight Zone and the freedom of a low budget, Jonathan King's stylish yet “modestly budgeted" twister marks his first collaboration with novelist Chad Taylor. King regular Nathan Meister stars as a media executive whose confusions multiply after learning that a strung-out woman (Michelle Langstone) has his wallet. Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles praised the film's canny visions of a future where others control our perceptions of reality. REALITi's five NZ Film Award nominations included Best Self-Funded Film and Screenplay.
Feature film The Catch follows Scotsman Brian (Nicol Munro) – a hard up builder under pressure from his ex – and his mate Wiremu (Billy’s Tainui Tukiwaho). The two vie for a $50,000 kitty in a Kaipara fishing contest. A potentially prize-winning snapper bites the hook, only it is three days early. Inspired by a true story, The Catch was written by Glenn Wood and directed by advertising veteran Simon Mark-Brown, who billed it as a "comedic eco-drama". The self-funded film was shot over 11 days with the help of locals; it debuted in New Zealand cinemas in summer of 2017.
Overhearing his crush say she only likes “real island guys” is all it takes to get Adam (Neil Amituanai, in his big screen debut) packing his bags for Samoa, in this comedy by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (TV's Fresh). Shot largely in Samoa over two weeks, the self-funded film co-stars Samoan locals Vito Vito and Fesuiai Viliamu as Adam’s cousins, teaching him the basics of island life. Three Wise Cousins reached number eight at the NZ box office in its opening weekend, and continued to win solid audiences, despite minimal publicity. Stuff critic James Croot called it "colourful and charming".
In this odd couple tale set in the American west, Cohen Holloway (Until Proven Innocent, Boy) plays an outlaw who abducts an upper class Brit. Calamity ensues when the hardman fails to have his wicked way with her. The self-funded film screened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, winning praise from critic Leonard Maltin. While Utu took the Western genre and applied it to NZ's colonial history, Good for Nothing mines South Island scenery for the first 'Pavlova Western'. Long-time Weta staffer Mike Wallis directs; and the rousing score is by composer John Psathas.
The Great Maiden's Blush hinges on two people from very different backgrounds: a girl-racer in prison for manslaughter (Hope and Wire's Miriama McDowell), who plans to adopt out her baby, and a failed classical pianist (Renee Lyons) whose own baby is due for a risky operation. Each must confront their own secrets in order to move forward. Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader's acclaimed third movie continues an interest in character-rich stories where "big themes play out in modest circumstances". It won awards for McDowell and Best Self-Funded Film at the 2017 NZ Film Awards.