Voices of the Land: Nga Reo o te Whenua
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Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 100 minutes
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.
Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro - traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. Debuting at the 2014 Wellington Film Festival, Voices of the Land pays tribute to Nunn's role in their revival, while Wolffram's powerhouse creative team use image and sound to show ways "landscape and the voices of the land can be heard".
Richard Nunns has been a primary figure in retrieving taonga pūoro, the traditional instruments of the Māori, from the silence of the museum. Archivist, researcher, composer and performer, he has worked – first with the late Hirini Melbourne, and here with Horomona Horo – to reinstate lost performance traditions. For Nunns, the sounds of the instruments ‘sit somewhere between the sounds of the natural world and the human voice’: the performer enters and joins the soundscape of nature.
As the two men engage in musical conversation with a number of remarkable South Island locations, director Paul Wolffram and editor Annie Collins orchestrate the artistry of cinematographer Alun Bollinger and sound designer Tim Prebble to render the experience sublimely cinematic. We also meet master carver Brian Flintoff who works on intricate new flutes.
Performances are interwoven with tributes – many of them musical – to the value of Nunns’ discoveries and dedication. As Nunns contemplates his own failing body, the film’s attunement to natural forces – ebbing away and then resurgent – summons the spirits that have found renewal through him.
Landscape...it's the bedrock. It's the bones, it's the ribs, it's the stuff of music. It's the needle of the compass.
– Richard Nunns