Home' The Wellingtonian : July 7th 2011 Contents 17
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JULY 7, 2011
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On film, in print: Diane Pivac was pleased Sir Ian McKellen put his flourishing touch to her book, New
Zealand Film: An Illustrated History.
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
film into FOCUS
By REBECCA THOMSON
Awizard has waved his wand of
approval over a new book
about New Zealand film.
Sir Ian McKellen, who played the
wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the
Rings, has written the foreword for
New Zealand Film: An Illustrated
Edited by a group of movie-loving
Wellingtonians, the book charts the
history of New Zealand film. It will be
available from July 8.
Film Archive director Diane Pivac
spent five years compiling the book
and was thrilled to have McKellen
add his touch.
He is a big fan of New Zealand
film, so we were very lucky to get him
to do that. We feel very special, she
Published by the Film Archive and
Te Papa, New Zealand Film covers
more than 150 years of movie history,
starting with when George Haus-
mann introduced the kinematograph
projector in 1896 for the screening of
It really is a wonderful overview of
moving-making and moving-going in
New Zealand, said Pivac.
People think New Zealand film
started with Sleeping Dogs [in 1977],
but it goes back so much further.
As well as covering film pioneers
Rudall Hayward and Len Lye and
classics such as Goodbye Pork Pie and
Smash Palace, the book delves into
lesser-known topics, including gov-
ernment films, the popularity of home
movies and the pioneering of film
Pivac said New Zealanders No 8
wire mentality was salient in the film
industry from its early days.
When Hollywood first had sound,
they kept the secret of how to do that
for a long time, so New Zealanders
came up with their own way to pro-
And at the filming of the 
Empire Games in Auckland, film-
makers built rigs that health and
safety would never allow now. So you
get the idea of how equipment has
What has not changed is New Zea-
landers penchant for home movies.
There was a tendency to think ama-
teur moving-making was a recent
past-time, but Pivac said it went back
to the 1950s and 60s.
For instance, we [the Film
Archives] have a huge number of
amateur recordings of the Queen s
visit in 1953. Everyone there must
have had a camera!
She said one the most interesting
chapters in the book was about gov-
Between 1918 and 1941, the Gov-
ernment Publicity Office produced
short films about New Zealand s scen-
ery, created subtitles for silent
movies and introduced newsreels to
There s footage of the 1931 Napier
earthquake and, man, that footage is
so similar to the Christchurch earth-
quake footage, said Pivac.
The Government Publicity Office
became the National Film Unit in
1941, when Cabinet decided to screen
news of New Zealand s war effort.
Pivac said the book also showed
how society had changed over the
Early photographs depict film-
makers and movie-goers dressed in
Our viewing tastes have also
changed, though perhaps not that
much, said Pivac.
There are so many films of con-
tests -- baby contests, hair-cutting
competitions, beauty competitions.
The funny thing was that you voted
for your favourite contestant. They
were forerunners to reality television,
Pivac said there were plenty more
gems and readers should enjoy dis-
The book, which costs $85, also
comes with a DVD of short movies
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