This dramatised documentary looks back to 1955, when a female bottlenose dolphin began appearing regularly in Hokianga Harbour, close to the town of Opononi. Opo became a national celebrity, but died in controversial circumstances on 9 March 1956, the suspected victim of bombing by local fisherman. Directed by Steve La Hood (Numero Bruno, Swimming Lessons), the film recreates events of the summer and explores the belief of local Māori that Opo was a messenger sent by Kupe to unite the people. It includes interviews and extensive archival footage of Opo.
Strange things are going down at the Bailey farm in this deadpan short film. A pile of mysterious crates requires some serious detective work: small-town cop Darryl Kitchen (Roy Snow from Go Girls), ably assisted by best mate Brian and a stash of sandwiches, is up for the challenge. Officer Kitchen's dedication to getting his catch includes a chase that could be used in police recruit videos. Serve and Protect won audience choice awards at both New Zealand's Show Me Shorts Film Festival, and Nevada's High Desert fest — among the 16 festivals it was invited to around the world.
Canadian import Tami Neilson showcased her range with fourth album Dynamite!, colouring her country roots with lashings of rockabilly and gospel — plus this track, where she channels torch singer Peggy Lee doing a “sultry nightclub blues” (as the Herald's Graham Reid put it). The black and white video reflects the deliberately retro, minimalist vibe of the song, with Neilson grooving at front and centre while guitarist, bongo drummer and a trio of doo-wop vocalists chime in behind. 'Walk' won Tami and brother Joshua Neilson the 2014 Silver Scroll songwriting award.
Tami Neilson toured her native Canada while still a child, as part of family act The Neilsons. After moving to NZ she self-released her solo debut Red Dirt Angel in 2009. It won a Tui award for best country album, as did the two that followed. Purposefully “rough and ready” fourth release Dynamite! saw the addition of soul, rockabilly and gospel to Neilson's country roots. The result was a run of awards including the Taite Music Prize for year's Best Kiwi Album, and a Silver Scroll songwriting gong for track ‘Walk (Back to Your Arms)’.
Vincent Ward has won an international reputation as one of New Zealand's most original and visionary filmmakers. Vigil and The Navigator played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival (the first Kiwi films to do so). In Hollywood, Ward made Robin Williams afterlife drama What Dreams May Come. Urewera-set docu-drama Rain of the Children in 2008 revisited characters from Ward's 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone.
Taika (Boy) Waititi's first feature is an offbeat comedy about two lonely misfits and their attempts to find love. Lily (Loren Taylor) is a shy fast-food cashier with a crush on clueless gaming geek Jarrod (Conchord Jemaine Clement). When Lily crashes Jarrod's fancy dress party wearing a shark costume and impresses the self-styled ‘Eagle Lord' with her gaming prowess — excerpted here — she gets her man. But their budding romance is sorely tested by Jarrod's obsession with a childhood nemesis. Empire called the film, "a comic delight destined for cult adoration."
Jemaine Clement is the bespectacled half of folk-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who achieved international cult status in their own HBO series. Clement's screen career began after he appeared on 90s sketch shows Telly Laughs and Skitz. Following his big screen debut in Tongan Ninja, he starred in misfit romance Eagle vs Shark. In 2014 he co-directed and acted in hit vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.
After working at the National Film Unit, the BBC and Canada's National Film Board, John Laing made his feature film debut as a director with Arthur Allan Thomas drama Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1980). Since then he has directed another six features, and many television shows and tele-movies. Laing has also produced for both Outrageous Fortune and Mercy Peak.
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.
Lisa Harrow's CV marks her out as one of New Zealand's most prodigious acting exports. After starring in Twelfth Night for the Royal Shakespeare Company at age 25, she got serious about screen acting in the 1980s and worked everywhere from Iceland to Australia, as well as starring in Kiwi films Other Halves and Shaker Run. Alongside her acting, Harrow now campaigns for ecological responsibility on stage and page.