Swimming Lessons is the story of jaded swimming coach Jim Sadler (Marshall Napier, from Came a Hot Friday and Bellbird) and a spirited seven-year-old delinquent (Sam Masina). The troubled Samoan boy is a potential champion, but the challenges of training him force the coach to confront his own failings in life: one as seemingly straight as the pool's lane line. Directed by Steve La Hood (documentary Numero Bruno), the TV movie won two NZ Television Awards, for actors Masina and Catherine Wilkin. It screened in the Montana Sunday Theatre slot.
Former Commonwealth Games athlete Kirk Torrance (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa) struggled with asthma and school as a child, before realising his potential as an internationally competitive swimmer. Following his exploits at home and abroad in the pool, Torrance graduated from Toi Whakaari and embarked on a successful career in film and television. His most memorable performances to date include Toa in Fish Skin Suit, Lee Kapene in Shortland Street, Holden in award-winning feature film Stickmen, and detective Wayne Judd in the hit TV series Outrageous Fortune.
Actor Kevin Smith could do it all; from brooding like Brando in a Tennessee Williams play, through Xena, to the gentle romantic lead of Double Booking, and self-parody in Love Mussel. Collected here are selections from a career cut short (he died in a 2002 film-set accident). Plus tributes from James Griffin, Michael Hurst, Geoffrey Dolan and Simon Prast.
This short film follows a freshly-arrived Korean immigrant, trapped in suburban Auckland while her husband Kim works. Su Jung befriends her neighbours, who take her to their weekly swimming lessons, where she finds release in the water. But when swimming affects the cooking of dinner, Kim is piqued. For 2009 Spada New Filmmaker of the Year Zia Mandviwalla, Eating Sausage was the first in a quartet of shorts exploring cross-cultural collisions (Clean Linen, Amadi and Cannes-selected Night Shift). It was selected for the London and Pusan Film Festivals.
"New Zealand congratulates Peter Snell, one of the fastest men in the world." Middle distance runner Snell sets two world records on the grass track at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in the 800 yards and half mile. "I was almost horrified at the pace ... I was had it by the time I reached the back straight ... I just went on on the thought of that world record." He reflects on a relaxing trip to Milford Sound, and champion coach Arthur Lydiard is interviewed. Also featured is the 1962 swimming champs at Naenae Olympic Pool under floodlights. Snell died on 12 December 2019.
Made by the NFU for the NZ Water Safety Council this film enlists shock to provoke punters to consider water safety. On a summer’s day a fisherman, surfer and boatie all reckon it's “a great day for it”. But thoughtlessness results in tragedy. Directed by Hugh Macdonald (This is New Zealand), the disjunct between the jaunty song on the soundtrack and sunken bodies onscreen anticipates the graphic horror of the late 90s/early 00s road safety ads (sharing kinship with 1971 bush safety PSA Such a Stupid Way to Die). Grant Tilly cameos as a radio DJ.
Fronted by Paul Holmes, this doco looks at the New Zealand Paralympic team at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. It was the most successful team to date with a haul of nine gold medals, six silver and four bronze (and 44 personal bests). Triumph focuses on several disabled Kiwi athletes, from their arrival in the States to victory on the track, in the pool and on the field. The first Paralympics were held in Rome in 1960 with just 400 competitors. In Atlanta 3,500 athletes competed, 35 of them kiwis. Triumph broke ground screening in a primetime slot on TV One.
Looking at New Zealand was an early NZBC “pictorial magazine” show which explored “New Zealand’s backyard”. Produced by Conon Fraser, it was a staple of Sunday night 60s TV. In this edition the narrator introduces NZ’s unheralded scenic wonder: “its girls”, as he meets some of Miss New Zealand’s 1969 contestants. The women talk about their interests (“I adore frilly nighties”) and occupations (typist) in a style that is more Stepford Wives than Kate Sheppard. Miss Auckland Carole Robinson (not seen here), would go on to win Miss Photogenic at that year’s Miss Universe pageant.
Wellington’s Today Tonight was one of four regional news shows launched by TVNZ in 1980. Over the years its hosts included Roger Gascoigne, Mark Leishman and Mike Bodnar. The show covered the local news from the pre-Wellywood, pre-’Absolutely Positively’ era: from restaurateur Remiro Bresolin’s Venetian mural, and a Philip Rush midwinter swim to work (across the harbour); to show stalwart Bas Tubert doing an offbeat Lady and the Tramp number for the Botanic Gardens tulip festival, and Beehive whimsy when David Lange (PM) meets David Lange (farmer).
NFU-produced TV series These New Zealanders explored the character and people of six NZ towns, 60s-style. Fronted by Selwyn Toogood, it was one of the legendary presenter's first TV slots. In this episode Toogood dons the walk shorts and long socks and visits Taupō, extolling the lake district as a place of play (camping, fishing, swimming, jet-boating) and work (the development of Lochinver Station for farming). Toogood does a priceless vox pop survey of summertime visitors, including the requisite quizzing of an overseas couple about whether they like it here.