Director: Sam Neill, Judy Rymer
Framed as a road movie chronicling a return trip to New Zealand, this film starts from the fact that Sam Neill, (the only director in the series for the century of cinema whose career is actually acting) remembers his childhood film-going as marked by an absence of images of New Zealand on the screen. Before 1977, there was little by documentary production from the National Fiim Unit, much of it devoted to constructing idealised images of New Zealand as 'God's own country'. Underpinning Neili's exploration of New Zealand's modern film culture is a series of perceptions of what sets the country apart: its relatively small and scattered population, its surviving Indigenous people—the Maori—and, not least, the psychological sense of isolation from the rest of the world. In his very personal journey through the real and cinematic landscape of the country, we discover that in Neili's view these are the vital characteristics that have shaped and defined New Zealand cinema and he offers clips from dozens of films from the last three decades-Smash Palace through Utit, The Quiet Earth, Vigil Angel at My Table and beyond—to illustrate his own contribution to the cinema of unease.
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