We use cookies to help us understand how you use our site, and make your experience better. To find out more read our privacy policy.




Full screen
Video quality

Low 0 MB

High 0 MB


Hero image for A Small Life

A Small Life

Film (Full Length) – 2000


Little known in its homeland, but an award-winner overseas, director Michael Heath's tragic portrait of mother and child confronts "intense emotion without flinching" (as Lawrence McDonald wrote). Largely bypassing dialogue in favour of a more elemental approach, the filmmakers combine sound and song (courtesy of composer David Downes and singer Mahinārangi Tocker) with lyrical imagery of the family revelling in their rural backblock (shot by Stephen Latty). There is added poignancy in the fact that Tocker — playing the mother who loses her boy — herself passed away in 2008.

We could not have made this film, this way, without the freedom given to us by the Screen Innovation Production Fund. We hope this film is a unique vision of our own culture, our own country, our own landscape.
– Writer/Director Michael Heath

Key Cast & Crew

Generic Profile image for Mahinārangi Tocker

Mahinārangi Tocker

As: Ana

Profile image for David Downes

David Downes

Visual Effects, Sound, Editor, Composer

Profile image for Stephen Latty

Stephen Latty

Producer, Cinematographer

Profile image for Michael Heath

Michael Heath

Writer, Director

Generic Profile image for Kelly Leader-Tropman

Kelly Leader-Tropman

As: Tama

Generic Profile image for Hera Dunleavy

Hera Dunleavy

As: Social Worker

See all 14 credits

Produced by

Gumption Films


Gumption Films


Music composed by David Downes, with Downes as musical director. Songs composed by David Downes and sung by Mahinārangi Tocker and Kelly Leader-Tropman. Lyrics by Tocker and Downes.

 'Tangi' sung by Tocker, Downes and The Tudor Consort