This musical retooling of the ill-fated love story began life as a concept album by ex Screaming Meemee members Peter van der Fluit and Michael McNeill. In 2010 they sent 38 songs to director Tim van Dammen, who decided to retell Shakespeare's classic romance as "a sort of trash opera — like an updated John Waters type thing". A caravan park is the canvas for a cast of beautiful young things, pop, rap, knives and beer crates. NZ Herald's Dominic Corry praised the film for its "emotionally-assured grasp of what makes this famous story so enduring".
This edition of the early 90s magazine arts show begins with a visit to Auckland's Herald Theatre to preview a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Michael Hurst and starring 16-year-old actor Sophia Hawthorne. Raybon Kan explores fatal books; author Ian Cross is interviewed and Bill Ralston reviews Cross’s latest novel (with Ralston wanting to know why all New Zealand art is "so bleak, so barren"). Film Festival director Bill Gosden previews the event's programme, and comedy group Facial DBX is interviewed ahead of the Watershed Comedy Festival.
Reality series Tough Act follows first-year students at New Zealand's most famous drama school. In this episode personal lives clash with professional aspirations. The students' first professional production looms. As they rehearse scenes from Shakespeare, distractions are everywhere. Hollie is grieving after news of an accident and class romances are put to the test when partners perform intimate scenes with colleagues. When Sophie sleeps in and misses a rehearsal, she faces serious consequences. The series was nominated for two local awards for Best Reality Series.
Donogh Rees is an accomplished actress in theatre and on screen. Her feature film debut was playing the lead role in Constance. She won a Film and TV award for her portrayal of a woman with a head injury in the film Crush, and in 2012 was seen playing Lady Capulet in an unorthodox film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Her most well known television role was playing Nurse Judy Brownlee in Shortland Street, but she has been in a number of TV shows such as Marlin Bay, Xena and the mini-series Fallout.
Sons for the Return Home tells the story of a Romeo and Juliet romance between students Sione, a NZ-raised Samoan, and Sarah, a middle class palagi. Director Paul Maunder shifts between time and setting (London, Wellington, Samoa) in adapting Albert Wendt's landmark 1973 novel. Sons was the first feature film attentive to Samoan experience in NZ — alongside themes of identity, racism and social and sexual consciousness. In this excerpt Sione meets Sarah's parents, and his tin'a has him scrubbing their Newtown pavement prior to Sarah's reciprocal visit.
In this 1973 current affairs interview, Albert Wendt discusses his first novel Sons For the Return Home on the occasion of its publication. The Pacific Island Romeo and Juliet tale was a seminal exploration of Samoan migrant life in NZ. Wendt muses on the inspiration for his work; facing discrimination at school and from girlfriends' parents; the differences between NZ Samoans and Samoan Samoans; returning ‘home’, and the difficulty of finding the solitude to write in Samoa. Maurice Shadbolt praises the book at its launch; it was adapted into a film in 1979.
John (Anton Tennet) is a small town crim with a big time dream: to abscond from Thames to Paeroa with his boss’s sister. A robbery gone wrong and a mysterious Chinese bracelet send his plans into a spin, and he finds that going back to the future has a price. Hong Kong action movies, Kiwi slapstick and time travel head to the heartland in Tim van Dammen’s follow-up to Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song. Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows) plays the villain; Milo Cawthorne and Yoson An are also in the cast. Mega Time Squad was selected for the Fantasia festival in Montreal.
Best known for his music videos, Elam graduate Tim van Dammen began dabbling in acting, bands and photography as a teen. Inbetween drumming for Collapsing Cities, he has directed two no-budget features and 160+ videos, including clips for Sola Rosa, Boh Runga and Kids of 88. His third feature Romeo and Juliet: A Love Story, launched at the 2013 NZ International Film Festival. It combined Shakespeare, many songs and trailer trash. Five years later the festival was set to play van Dammen's action comedy Mega Time Squad.
Jonno Woodford-Robinson has edited everything from features (Taika Waititi's debut Eagle vs Shark) to commercials (such as Telecom's Meerkats campaign). Woodford-Robinson's other features include Alison Maclean's The Rehearsal, Mahana and pioneering Fijian film The Land Has Eyes. A frequent collaborator with director Jason Stutter, Woodford-Robinson's projects include Stutter's adaptation of novel Predicament. After several nominations, he picked up his first New Zealand Film Award in 2017 for his work as co-editor (with Mike Horton) of Lee Tamahori's rural drama Mahana.
Sophia Hawthorne, who died in February 2016, starred on stage in Cabaret, Closer and Romeo and Juliet. After a number of short films — including the moody She’s Racing — she got breakthrough screen roles in movies When Love Comes and Savage Honeymoon (playing wild child Leesa Savage). Further nominations followed for TV’s Insiders Guide to Happiness. She was daughter of actor Elizabeth and director Raymond Hawthorne.