NZ On Screen has launched a significant collection showcasing the work of the National Film Unit.
The collection celebrates the incredibly diverse output of the government body, that, for nearly 50 years filmed everything from wartime newsreels and tourism promos to historical TV epics.
It bred NZ’s first Oscar nominations, pioneering female directors, political controversy, and was a key industry training ground. Screen alumni include Sam Neill, John Laing, Sam Pillsbury, Selwyn Toogood, and many more; and arts icons such as Brian Brake, Douglas Lilburn, James K Baxter, Maurice Shadbolt, and Denis Glover were all involved in NFU films …
The 30 films in the collection provide a sampler pack of NFU classics: from Rhythm and Movement to Ralph Hotere; from Snows of Aorangi to Score; from Gone Up North for a While to Games 74; from The Governor to This is New Zealand, and many more …
In a written background essay, screen historian Roger Horrocks offers a highlights history of the outfit mooted to capture “the Vitamin D of nationality”. And NFU alumni Paul Maunder, Lynton Diggle and Sam Pillsbury provide personal reflections on their time at the unit.
Pillsbury: “People slag off at Government Departments. But like many bureaucracies, the NFU was also a hidden gem … It was a sort of hideout for slackers and innovators …”
There is also a filmed ScreenTalk interview with Sam Neill: before finding fame as an actor Neill was a 20-something director at the NFU, making documentaries on Ian Athfield, Red Mole theatre troupe, windsurfing across Cook Strait, and 70s freestyle skiing:
“It was never stated but you made one for them … the Post Office, Railways or banana company … and you made one for yourself, and I wanted to make a skiing film [Flare] …”
The selection is an unique online showcase of an important part of Aotearoa screen history. Stalwart NFU cameraman Lynton Diggle:
“The National Film Unit played an important role in forging an indigenous film industry, and I congratulate NZ On Screen for their foresight in breathing life back into those early productions.”
There are over 50 NFU titles on NZ On Screen — from Hillary Returns to Legend of the Wanganui River to A Dolphin’s Story — with more regularly added. Their presence on NZ On Screen is made possible with the support of Archives New Zealand, the stewards of the NFU archive
To watch and enjoy this wonderful collection of nz screen culture folow this link :