Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hunting Cinema’s Magic 100

100 Essential New Zealand Films
by Hamish McDouall
Awa Press ($40).

‘Are there a hundred?’ This was the almost universal response when Hamish McDouall mentioned to anyone that he was writing a book called 100 Essential New Zealand Films.

In fact McDouall’s problem was the opposite. ‘There are now so many exceptional New Zealand films I had a lot of difficulty deciding what to leave out. Many people continue to be entranced by Hollywood blockbusters, but a lot of the most fresh and original films are being produced here at home, and always have been’ McDouall says.

100 Essential New Zealand Films, just published by Awa Press is set to stimulate interest and debate among movie-goers. As well as obvious high-flyers such as The Piano, Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, The World’s Fastest Indian, and (of course) The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the book includes such lesser known gems as David Robertson’s 1992 short Lovelock, Florian Habicht’s 2004 cinema documentary Kaikohe Demolition and Tama Tu by rising director Taiki Waititi, one of the few New Zealand films currently available for download on iTunes US.

McDouall, whose interests also extend to cricket (he’s the author of a biography of Chris Cairns) and quizzes (he was New Zealand’s youngest ever Mastermind), spent the greater part of a year sitting in darkened rooms watching nearly every New Zealand film ever made, a mind-boggling immersion in the 109 years since the first surviving reel was shot.

The book includes details of where many New Zealand films can be watched, including at Film Archive libraries in Wellington and Auckland, on website New Zealand Onscreen, and from specialist stores such as Wellington’s Aro Street Video.

This is a must-have for every NZ film buff. Colour throughout. I had a great time recalling movies from the past that I had forgotten about. Right up to date too with The Topp Twins:Untouchable Girls there too.

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