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Against the Lights

Television (Full Length) – 1978

Based on Witi Ihimaera short story 'The Truth of the Matter', this drama explores racial stereotypes. An assault on a Pākehā taxi driver by his Māori passengers lies at the core of a narrative that takes aim at prejudice in Aotearoa. Each of the four characters offers a different perspective on what happened. In one account, the driver (Gliding On's Ross Jolly) tells his passengers "don’t slam the door Hori!", evoking a time when this popular derogatory term for Māori was about to fall from favour. Sam Pillsbury directed it for an unrealised series on race relations; it was shelved for 18 months, then screened on Kaleidoscope.

It's a nasty, depressing film about an issue which you wish would go away. But it doesn't give you any easy answers or leave you with a nice, warm feeling at the end.
– Writer/director Sam Pillsbury in The Listener, 6 September 1980, page 26

Produced by

Pillsbury Films


Produced for Television One and the Department of Education, with assistance from the QEll Arts Council