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Documentaries

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War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us

Price: NZ$40.95

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Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 90 mins
Year: 1995
Rating: [G]

Extraordinary true love stories set during the Second World War.

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There’s something about the way old woman talk about their lives that tells it like it was with no apologies. This is certainly true for the subjects of WAR STORIES – Our Mothers Never Told Us.

Byron wrote: “Love is of man’s life a thing apart, T’is a woman’s whole existence”.

Photographed against black velvet, lit by Alun Bollinger, One of New Zealand’s top cinematographers, these women tell bitter sweet tales of grief, laughter, love and loneliness.

New Zealand had a small population – just over 1.5 million people in 1939. Over the war years, thousands upon thousands of young men left to fight a war which was raging in places hardly any of them had heard of. Most of the women, young and old, stayed behind only to find their lives turned upside down. What had once been acceptable behaviour was often now out of the question. More importantly the opposite was also true. Many secrets were kept as the social order flipped and left exposed the private fears and prejudices of people.

“Loose tongues cost lives”
“Keep it under your hat”

In a country where not a shot was fired, wartime slogans in a strange way seem to mirror the private reality for many women who felt obliged to send the boys off to the front “happy” and to entertain American servicemen on leave from the Pacific.

Many of them were bringing up small children of their own, and suffering from the double standard of time which created an enormous rift between public and personal realities.

Then the boys came home and nothing was the same. The experience had changed them and the women too. How things were, was not how they were meant to be. An entire generation of New Zealanders, in a desperate bid to recreate “normal”, seem to have kept an enormous secret.

Since the 1950’s the silence in some ways has been deafening.

Now in their late 70’s and 80’s, against a backdrop of stills, montages and archive moving picture, surrounded by music they all danced to so splendidly, these women are ready to tell.

View excerpt from this title at NZ On Screen

SKU 015005

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Voices of the Land: Nga Reo o te Whenua

Price: NZ$40.95

The price of $40.95 is for home use only.
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Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 100 minutes
Year: 2014

Paul Wolffram’s documentary feature film melds sounds from noted musicians Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo, recorded in spectacular locations around New Zealand, to demonstrate that the sounds of the natural world are a form of music too.

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Velvet Dreams

Price: NZ$42.00

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Libraries and institutions etc., price on request.

Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Duration: 46 mins
Year: 1998

Velvet Dreams is a titillating introduction to the world of velvet painting, a genre most noted for its portraits of topless ‘dusky maidens’ painted on black velvet.

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The film is narrated in mock Sam Spade style by a man so obsessed by a woman seen in a junk shop painting that he traverses the Pacific to find out who she was. We meet velvet artists and collectors in Seattle, Arthur Leeteg’s widow in Tahiti, art historians in Auckland and, finally 88 year–old velvet painter, adventurer and party boy, Charles McPhee.

Velvet Dreams is directed by award winning director Sima Urale, whose O Tamaiti won the best short film award at the Venice Film Festival in 1996.

View excerpt from this title at NZ On Screen

SKU 005004

Watch the trailer below.

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Va Tapuia

Price: NZ$20.00

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Libraries and institutions etc., price on request.

Format: DVD Video
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Stereo
Duration: 15 minutes
Language: Samoan with English subtitles

This film tells the story of a farmer, Lui, who is burdened by the death of his beloved wife. In turn he has infected his land and crops with his grief and sadness.

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There is also a widow, Malia, who has forsaken her abusive husband’s grave to the mercy of the elements. She is punished and haunted by his memory and she spends days sitting at the ruins of their home watching his grave slowly being consumed by the rising sea. Their chance meeting inspires Lui to reach out to her and change both their lives.

O lenei ata e faatatau I se faimaumaga, e igoa ia Lui, o loo mafatia ona o le oti faafuasei o lona toalua. O ona faanoanoaga ma le loto vaivai ua aafia ai foi lana galuega ma le
siosiomaga.

E le gata i lea, ae o le talaaga foi o se faletua e igoa ia Malia, o loo tauivi ma le loto salamo ona o le tuu lafoaina o le tuugamau o lona toalua fa’asaua.

O le fetaui o nei tagata e toalua o le a suia ai o la olaga.

SKU: 026001

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Try Revolution

Price: NZ$40.95

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Libraries and institutions etc., price on request.

Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 70 mins
Year: 2006

Try Revolution tells the story of how the 1981 Springbok Tour of New Zealand impacted on South Africa.

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In this one hour documentary South Africans from Archbishop Desmond Tutu through to ordinary rugby fans talk about how the games, the images, the reports and the conversations that surrounded “The Tour” affected them personally and helped to change the apartheid system.

The 1981 Springbok Tour of New Zealand had been greatly anticipated by the rugby mad white community of South Africa. New Zealand was their most cherished rival and this tour was going to be live on television…a first for South Africa. So when they tuned into the first broadcast, the Hamilton match, and saw hundreds of protestors standing on the field they went into a kind of collective shock.

Try Revolution explores what happened over the ensuing months and indeed years as the impact of the “The Tour” was fully realised. From a prison mate of Nelson Mandela to the Captain of the ’81 Springboks, the documentary uncovers how the actions of the New Zealand protestors were perceived, understood, and used to help in the struggle against the apartheid regime.

Finalist Best Documentary NZ Screen Awards 2007

View excerpt from this title at NZ On Screen

SKU 021003

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Titless Wonders

Price: NZ$40.95

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Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 14:9
Duration: 70 mins
Year: 2001

Gaylene Preston calls her new documentary ‘an upfront exploration of the emotional discoveries of women with breast cancer’.

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Ever alert to the potential of a joke to encapsulate the surprising or inconvenient truth, Preston’s effrontery in calling her film Titless Wonders goes hand-in-glove with the painful personal nature of the task she has set herself.

She’s seen women in her family die from breast cancer and others survive, and she has spent the last six years watching her friend Shirley Grace overtaken by the disease. The subject of her film is coping with the utterly destabilising nature of life-threatening illness, and she prompts a range of women to tell her just how they have managed – and not managed.

Grace’s daughter Aimee reads from her mother’s diary, providing the film’s one account of the alternative medicine route. Irihapeti Ramsden talks of burying a breast in the garden and throwing a party. One woman was so relieved not t be diagnosed with lung cancer that she thought she got off lightly.

In the case of dancer, Jan Bolwell, trauma and resolution are vividly enacted in her dance piece Off My Chest, which is woven through out the film. Other survival measures are much more prosaic, but all move towards a measure of post-diagnosis identity expressed at his most dramatically assured by Jan Bolwell in the photograph that appears on this page.

Listening to their stories it’s impossible not to be struck by how vitally necessary such discourse is for the ill – and how it is denied like a contagion by the well and by the wannabe well. Shirley Grace died a few days into the new millennium, and this film, dedicated to her memory, gives her the support group she never had and the conversations that might have enriched her suffering.

BILL GOSDEN Director, New Zealand Film Festival

SKU 015002

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