New Zealand Filmmakers

New Zealand Filmmakers

Edited by: Ian Conrich and Stuart Murray

Wayne State University Press - Copyright 2007

Paperbound: $35us; 36eur; 23# - 229mm x 152mm - 396 pages - 51 illustrations

ISBN: 978-0-8143-3017-3; 0-8143-3017-7

"New Zealand filmmaking is in the spotlight, in the wake of the global successes of 'The Lord of the Ring' and 'King Kong'.
This very timely book wiill enlighten readers about the 'other' New Zealand cinema, with fascinating insights into the creative output of this South Pacific nation."
Geoff Lealand, Associate Professor of Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato, New Zealand


Now that New Zealand's unique contribution to cinema is universally recognized, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to record an early example of its international reception. It was a matinee in 1952 at the Ionic Cinema, Golders Green, London, and the film was Broken Barrier, made by John O'Shea and Roger Mirams. Having been refused a student concession at the box office, I persisted: "Actually-I'm in this film-that's me on the poster with Katy Ngarimu-I know it says Kay there but . . .". This was getting sad, so I paid full price for my first viewing of the film, nervously aware of what John was later to describe in his book Don't Let It Get You as "the weight of our own inexperience" when making it. Roger, with his wide experience as a news and documentary cameraman, was quick to see the potential of anything we happened upon-even an unusually tame bird-but he had never worked on a feature film. John's directing experience was confined to amateur theater; his passion was studying and writing about film. On location he was as shrewd as Roger. An elderly Maori woman asked me what our film was about. "A Maori and Pakeha love story," I told her. She smiled, "Ah, and you're the Maori boy." It seemed my coloring could confuse audiences, so I put this to John. Hand-rolled cigarette dangling from his lip, head thrown back, eyes narrowed, he muttered, "His name was Sullivan-Tom Sullivan-an Irish name, and he had that sort of dark Irish look." That became part of the narration of the film: there being no budget for a sound crew, no dialogue was recorded. Broken Barrier was released in the same year as Singin' in the Rain-but we weren't even talkin'.

That was a good thing because none of us had any professional acting experience. Katy, beautiful and dignified throughout the filming, had never wanted to act and never did so again. We met again in 1996 when, to celebrate New Zealand's centenary of cinema, four postage stamps were issued. One of these featured Katy and me in Broken Barrier. In a television interview we gave at the launch, Katy revealed that she had been persuaded to appear in the film by her father, who rightly felt she would be a worthy representative of her people. Training as a teacher, Katy was free to film on the Mahia Peninsula during her summer holiday, and in Wellington at weekends. Whoever was to play Tom had to be available at these and other locations too, and no amateur actor was prepared to leave his steady job. I was doing temporary jobs to raise my fare to go to Britain in some months' time to study drama. Asked to play Tom for six pounds a week plus food and tobacco, I agreed.

Our entire traveling cast and crew consisted of four people crammed into Roger's Vauxhall, which towed a trailer packed with equipment. Watching the film in London, I recognized almost every camera set-up, having been needed to carry gear, hold a reflector, or push a dolly when not in front of the camera. I admired the performances of people who had appeared in the film out of pure goodwill, especially friends on our main location, the idyllic Mahia Peninsula. But surely a London audience would prefer a subject closer to home-an Ealing comedy perhaps? The final credits rolled at the Ionic Cinema-there was a murmur from the audience-then applause. Applause at a midweek matinee on a wet day in London! I felt then there would be no worries about the future of New Zealand cinema.

New Zealand cinema is now applauded worldwide for its achievements and, in this book, it is the subject of wide-ranging critical analysis. The essays here describe an incredible progression from early New Zealand films to the blockbusters of the present.They outline industrial achievements, the workings of film form, and the effect that New Zealand cinema has as part of the country's culture. Taken together, the essays are a fitting tribute to all those who have worked in the industry.


Table of Contents

Part 1. Pioneers

001 - Introduction by Stuart Murray and Ian Conrich
018 - Free Radical: The Life and Work of Len Lye by Roger Horrocks
035 - A Rough Island Story: The Film Life of Rudall Charles Hayward by Sam Edwards & Stuart Murray
054 - John O'Shea: A Poetics of Documentary by Laurence Simmons
072 - Between the Personal and the Political: Feminist Fables in the Films of Gaylene Preston by Estella Tincknell
088 - Images of Dignity: The Films of Barry Barclay by Stuart Murray
103 - Lives of Their Own: Films by Merata Mita by Geraldene Peters
121 - Ricordi! Peter Wells, Memories of a Queer Land by David Gerstner

Part 2 - The New Wave

138 - Between the National and the International: The Films of Roger Donaldson by James Chapman
152 - Embodying the Commercial: Genre and Cultural Affect in the Films of Geoff Murphy by Jonathan Rayner
169 - "Kiwi as ...": Ian Mune and Filmmaking as Cultural Expression by Stan Jones
185 - The Man Alone: Bruno Lawrence's Screen Performances of the Kiwi Bloke by Andrew Spicer
201 - Working in Close-Up: Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Performance, and Collaborative Film Production by Barbara Cairns
217 - Crisis and Conflict: The Films of John Laing by Ian Conrich
236 - "Carry Me Back": Time and Place in the Films of John Reid by Bruce Babington

Part 3 - Visionaries and Fantasists

256 - Leon Narbey: Art, Politics, and the Personal by Helen Martin
273 - Making Strange: Journeys through the Unfamiliar in the Films of Vincent Ward by Stephanie Rains
289 - Dislocations of Home and Gender in the Films of Jane Campion by Eva Rueschmann
304 - Experiments with Desire: The Psychodynamics of Alison Maclean by Kirsten Moana Thompson
320 - Bringing It All Back Home: The Films of Peter Jackson by Barry Keith Grant
336 - The Nightmare within the Everyday: The Horrific Visions of David Blyth by Stacey Abbott


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