As the New Zealand film industry has evolved, definitions of
what constitutes a feature film have shifted. Although guided by
the world archivist standard of defining features as being of
more than 60 minutes in length for films made after 1976, but I have
also taken under consideration that the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute and the British Film
Institute all consider a film of at least 40 minutes to be a feature.
I have included one documentary (Cinema of Unease), due to its
subject matter, and have also included some telefeatures along
with theatrically released films.
Producing a film isn't all about the profit the producers add to their
accounts, nor is it about the popularity of its cast and creative team.
A good local film can be considered a cultural product.
As with all cultural products, any New Zealand film is a hybrid
of influences, with overseas input including such contributions
as the influence of overseas training institutions such as the
Australian Film, Television and Radio School; the presence of
"imported" actors such as Warren Oates, Eleanor David, John
Carradine, etc. and production personnel such as Michael
Anderson, Ferdinand Fairfax and Nagisa Oshima; and the models
provided by imported genres, as can be seen in such films as Bad
Taste, Wild Horses and Goodbye Pork Pie.
In defining what constitutes a "New Zealand film" I have been
guided by the description in the Film Commission Act of 1978
which established the New Zealand Film Commission. Under the Act
"significant New Zealand content" is defined with regard to
subject; nationalities and places of residence of creators,
production teams and casts, financiers and copyright holders:
money sources; ownership and whereabouts of equipment and
Many films do not fit all of these categories, but I have
included them because of their significant New Zealand
association. Examples include The Piano, which was financed from
overseas, but set and shot in New Zealand with a largely New
Zealand cast and crew; A Soldier's Tale which was shot overseas,
but financed and produced from New Zealand; and Merry Christmas
Mr Lawrence, which, although not a New Zealand story, had input
from New Zealand money and personnel and was shot in New
Zealand. Later, if there is an interest, I may include films
with a minimal, but nevertheless interesting connection to New
Zealand, such as The Sands of Iwo Jima, which was partly filmed
in New Zealand.
The Preceeding is mostly derived from 'New Zealand Film 1912-1996'
by Helen Martin and Sam Edwards - Oxford University Press IBSN
0-19-558336-1 which I highly recommend to everyone interested in
pre-1997 New Zealand films. - CE