Newsreel 59 | Winter 2008
The Jonathan Dennis Library
It’s hard to believe the Film Archive in Wellington has been housed at the Taranaki Street address for more than five years. The official fourth birthday of the opening of the mediaplex public spaces was 27 May 2008. So it was timely the next phase of public access to the Archive’s collection took place one day later on Wednesday 28 May. On this day Chief Executive Frank Stark unveiled The Jonathan Dennis Library to a group of well-wishers and invited guests. An impromptu speech by film maker Annie Collins and a showing of photographs from Jonathan’s sister Simon Dennis gave the official proceedings a familial touch, and heartfelt gratitude was expressed for the work of Jonathan Dennis the first director of the Film Archive from 1981 to 1990.
Guests were invited up to the new reference library on the second level of the Film Archive building in small groups and were shown tasters of the Documentation Collection by Collection Manager Kristen Wineera, Research Librarian Kiri Griffin and Administration Assistant Hope Tioro.
The Jonathan Dennis Library.
The fit-out of the Jonathan Dennis Library was funded by a grant from the combined Community Trusts of New Zealand in recognition of the nationwide benefit gained from this project. These included the Canterbury Community Trust, The Community Trust of Wellington, Trust Waikato, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Bay Trust, Mid and South Canterbury Community Trust, The Whanganui Foundation and the West Coast Community Trust. The Film Archive also acknowledges the support of the Lottery Grants Board in the creation of this new facility.
Now researchers and the public are able to search through a wealth of film-related material including photographs, posters, publicity files, private papers and ephemera. Specific examples include photographs and posters from the silent 1927 epic by Rudall Hayward, The Te Kooti Trail, production papers and photographs from Goodbye Pork Pie (1981, Geoff Murphy) and press and publicity files on screen personalities ranging from Lisa Reihana, Bill Ralston, Peter Jackson and Gaylene Preston to Len Lye, Barry Barclay, Taika Waititi and New Zealand silent screen actress Dale Austen.
Frank Stark says, “There are around 900 linear metres of books, periodicals, photographs, press clippings, manuscripts, company archives, scripts, sound recordings, ephemera, artwork and artefacts in this specialist collection. Not only does it document screen culture, the history and technology of the moving image in New Zealand and overseas, but it’s also unique within New Zealand. It is a heritage resource of national significance.”
The library facility itself incorporates a public user area for researchers and reference materials, a vault for storage of preservation materials and a collection processing room for cataloguing and conservation work. The library is open from 9am - 5pm daily with two full-time staff members available to receive queries and discuss researchers’ interests. — Anna Dean
Coming to a Place Near You
This year film shows have been held in Northland and Southland and many places in between, including the Wairoa Maori Film Festival over Queen’s Birthday weekend. Upcoming events to look out for include: The Bush Cinderella at Putaruru on Saturday 19 July. The silent feature by Rudall Hayward celebrates its 80th anniversary this year and the programme will feature a trio of musicians playing Dorothy Buchanan’s specially composed score.
The Victoria Cinema in Hamilton will host Big Moments from the Past, a compilation of film items illustrating the political and cultural events that shaped the baby boomer generation on 20 - 21 July supported by The Hamilton Film Society.
The Opotiki Silent Film Festival (5-7 September) features shorts from the Film Archive collection and Venus of the South Seas produced by NZ Dominion Pictures and starring Annette Kellerman, a 1920s screen siren. This year’s Heritage Week in Christchurch will feature a programme on Christchurch architecture and is supported by the Christchurch branch of the Historic Places Trust. In early December the Otago Library’s 150th anniversary will be celebrated with a programme of early Dunedin films with live piano accompaniment. — Jane Paul
Harnessing the Power of the Moving Image
In an age of Playstations, multiple channels and hand-held video phones it’s appropriate, as well as useful, to be able to hold the attention of secondary school children with the moving image. In May the Film Archive released the next chapter in the nationwide ON DISK programme for secondary schools Urban Settlements: Wellington contains eight hours of edited film and television extracts exploring Wellington’s historical geography from 1840 to the present day.
Students are now able to watch rare fi lm footage including beach fun in the 1920s and even the final giant sheep drive through the centre of the city in 1950. The programme Urban Settlements: Wellington is designed to cover important elements of the curriculum for geography students in Year 12 and comes complete with online study materials.
Education Programme Manager Alex Burton points out that while Urban Settlements: Wellington becomes part of the Geography menu of the Archive’s ON DISK library, it also provides a wealth of material for students studying Wellington from other subject perspectives. The Wellington region has an extraordinary story, and the programme is a comprehensive record of people and events as well as urban development, all carefully selected and programmed on three multi-menued disks. “It’s great to be able to highlight to kids onscreen how a city can undergo massive social and cultural change. There’s jaunty footage of New Zealand’s first ‘American style’ supermarket being promoted by Aunt Daisy in 1949, contrasted with grim amateur footage of slum housing in Te Aro in the 1940s. Then we can see John Campbell’s revelations about his Wellington childhood and the branding of Absolutely Positively Wellington in the 1990s.”
The programme is the largest production to date from the Education team at the Film Archive. Designed to harness the power of visual source material to enhance the learning process, teachers and students have been quick to recognise the usefulness of the ON DISK resource. Funded by the Ministry of Education the scheme is currently running at over 300% of its usage targets. The ON DISK library contains over 40 titles designed specifically for the secondary school curriculum and are all available to schools completely free of charge. — Anna Dean
Digital Media Matters
The leading international expert on the migration of archival film and video material to digital form has agreed to work with the Film Archive on the formulation of its digital strategy.
The keynote speaker at the Film Archive’s Digitised, Presumed Preserved Conference in February was Jim Lindner of New York-based consultancy Media Matters. Media Matters has provided advice on digital migration to many archives, including the Australian National Film and Sound Archive and the US National Audio Visual Conservation Centre at Culpeper, Virginia. Culpeper, which is operated by the Library of Congress, is easily the largest facility in the world for digitising moving image and sound material. Alongside traditional, labour-intensive restoration work on analogue fi lm, video and sound material, it features a robotic digitising factory which will enable the centre to tackle the massive task of preserving over 500,000 video cassettes.
The Archive has invited Jim Lindner to return to New Zealand to create a set of digital video archiving standards and a set of guidelines for the workflows involved in migrating our range of formats, from VHS video to 35mm film. The combination of his expertise, the experience and skills of Film Archive staff and the extensive range of equipment within the medialaboratory should ensure that the Film Archive is a leader in the world-wide shift to digital technology.
The 2006 New Zealand Film Archive Capability Review carried out by Professor Roger Horrocks made it clear that the implementation of digital technologies was a priority for a 21st century moving image archive. The review laid out the need for the migration of collection material in all formats and genres from its original analogue media to digital file storage with benefits for both preservation and access. The problems for the Archive in following that path lay in the prevailing uncertainty about technical standards and the inevitable shortage of resources.
In July 2007, some of those obstacles were overcome with the agreement of NZ on Air to invest in a new technical facility to transfer large quantities of film and video material to digital form. Construction and fit-out of the medialaboratory was completed earlier this year, giving the Film Archive a robust base for a sustained programme of digitisation just as an international consensus emerges on digital standards for moving image archives.
The fundamental principle is that master files should be lossless. That is to say, whatever information is extracted from the original item during migration should still be present in the master file. By contrast, most data compression systems developed for non-archival purposes routinely discard a portion of the information as a way to save storage space, then synthesise or approximate it on replay. Uncompressed or lossless master files can be compared to master filmnegatives – only accessed if necessary for the reconstruction of the item and supplemented by a range of viewable versions. In the analogue world that has meant film prints, video tapes or video disks. In the digital world it will mean video files compressed for use online, on DVD or in digital cinemas.
Methods and technology employed on an industrial scale at Culpeper can be readily adapted for New Zealand use at an affordable level. In the photo-chemical world of celluloid, the entry costs for key technologies like film processing laboratories have always been prohibitive. If digital video represents the third era of moving image history - after film and analogue video tape - it is the first where institutions like the Film Archive can participate on more or less even terms. — Frank Stark
The Film Archive’s Auckland office has been a hive of activity with a contemporary video show and community screenings all over Auckland so far this year.
During May Various Artists, a survey of contemporary video art, was a huge success in the gallery space. Nineteen monitors were mounted in shelving along one wall of the gallery allowing audiences to stand back and survey a range of contemporary practice all at once. Numerous artists made new work for the show including Tim van Dammen, Richard Frater, Anoushka Akel, Tahi Moore, Kentaro Yamada and Layla Rudneva-Mackay. New light was shed on some older short films by Florian Habicht whose unusual domestic fantasies offered one of the few examples of narrative film in the show. Several trends emerged from the exhibition with many works fitting into the category of “one shot, one take” videos. As many of the artists invited to show also work as sculptors, photographers, and painters, this “one shot, one take” method was appropriately simple and refined. The majority of video works were also silent or contained subtle soundtracks. This meant that sporadic eruptions of sound punctuated the exhibition with exclamation marks, commas and full stops.
Throughout the year we have continued to develop relationships with Auckland clubs and societies. We recently welcomed back the In Club from South Auckland who watched Gaylene Preston’s War Stories. We have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of active clubs withinthe Howick area where we have made contact with over six different societies, including the Howick Probus Club, Minerva Club, the Howick and Pakuranga Cardiac Clubs and the Howick Men’s Probus Club. Several branches of U3A (University of the Third Age) have also watched Film Archive screenings, most recently in Brown’s Bay and soon we will be showing The History of the North Shore for Birkenhead U3A.
We welcome interest from Historical Societies and have either screened with or have plans to screen with the Onehunga Historical Society, the Glenfield Historical Society and the Remuera Historical Society. — Amelia Harris
From the Cinema
The ability to project a range of different film and video formats enables us to screen a diverse programme not often seen at regular cinemas. This year we have continued to build audience base with a strong selection of New Zealand and international titles.
Wednesday nights are devoted to The New Zealand Feature Project, which aims to eventually screen all our surviving kiwi features at least once. A highlight so far this year has been Rangi’s Catch (1973) which features one of the funniest chase scenes in New Zealand film. The audience was in fits of giggles when the very young Temuera Morrison (Rangi) is seen chasing Ian Mune (Jake) through the thermal area at Whakarewarewa.
This August the Film Archive is delighted to be screening Rudall Hayward’s last silent feature, The Bush Cinderella on the big screen to mark the significant 80th anniversary of this legendary film.
Screenings to complement the 2008 exhibition programme in the mediagallery have included a selection of surrealist shorts from New Zealand and Iceland and a special performance of The Twilight Drone by Johannes Contag. On 23 February Enjoy Art Gallery screened a 2008 documentary made in partnership with the local Chinese community. Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon spoke to the large crowd and the film was preceded by Ramai Hayward’s Children in China (1961).
In January we worked closely with the Japan Information & Cultural Centre and JETAA to host free screenings of the popular Japanese films Ping Pong, Patlabor: The Movie 2 and Nabbie’s Love. Other international highlights have included award-winning short films from Germany, Estonia, Israel, Czech Republic and the USA, presented in association with the Goethe-Institut and the Human Rights Film Festival 2008. — Diane Pivac
In early May, I travelled to Hamilton and Auckland in my role as Video Collection Developer on an acquisitions trip to meet with depositors and hunt out new titles for the collection. While in Hamilton I attended the biennial Film Buffs Convention from 2 - 4 May.
The Film Buffs expressed their appreciation for the Film Archive’s continuing support, as well as a unanimous acknowledgment of the Archive’s work in restoring and making available historic New Zealand film for public access.
Everyone I spoke with was very interested in the Archive’s work and meeting a new face prompted several members to follow up on making deposits with the Archive.
While in Hamilton I met with Waikato Museum Archivist Penny Allen and was taken on a tour of the vaults under the Hamilton Library where several videos were ear-marked for deposit with the Film Archive.
Of principal interest on my tour was investigating the Modern Films Ltd collection in Auckland. Operating from 1950 to 1978 from a Victorian house at the junction of Khyber Pass and Broadway, Modern Films was one of the few outlets where visitors could view world cinema dating from the 1920s to the late 1970s. About a sixth of this collection of pristine 16mm prints has been brought to the Archive for assessment. It is a very exciting and interesting find. — Shane Farrow
Out and About
It has been a very busy first half of the year with many events and celebrations around the motu. In February the people of Whakarewarewa honoured the lives of guides Sophia, Rangi, Makareti (Maggie) and Bella Papakura and Bubbles Mihinui. A dawn ceremony at Wahiao Marae was followed by the unveiling of plaques along the walkway leading into Whakarewarewa. They feature photographs and a brief history of each of the famous guides and were unveiled by their descendants. The Film Archive screening back inside Wahiao Marae included material featuring all the guides honoured on the day, it was great to be a part of such a special occasion.
An event was held in Whaingaroa/Raglan to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the occupation of Te Kopua (then the Raglan Golf Course) in 1978. The programme included Tangata Whenua: The Spirits and Times Will Teach, Ngā Kara me Ngā Iwi and other titles directly relating to the people and area. It was decided to hold the screening the night before the official opening so family, friends, workers and organisers of the event could attend. It was a well attended and emotional event.
During Easter the annual 28th (Māori) Battalion Reunion was held at Te Poho ā Rāwiri Marae in Gisborne. Several months before this event Huia Kopua was approached by Sir Henare Ngata regarding a collection of 8mm films that he had in his possession. Some of the material was shot during a reunion at the same marae in the 1960s and Henare enquired about transferring and screening the material at this year’s event. He deposited 14 films in all and although time was short the appropriate rolls were identified, preserved and transferred to a screenable medium. Veterans, elders, family and friends all enjoyed the screening which was held in the meeting house. Many called out names as those on screen were recognised and the atmosphere in the house was electric.
Other events I have been involved in this year include the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Conference (WITBC) and the Ngā Aho Whakaari (Māori Film Makers) annual hui both held in Auckland. WITBC was an impressive event with guest speakers from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada and Taiwan. Māori Television also celebrated its fourth birthday at the conference with the launch of their Te Reo Channel on Freeview and Te Mangai Paho also celebrated 500,000 hours of Mäori Broadcasting. The Wairoa Māori Film Festival was held over Queen’s Birthday weekend and more than fifteen Matariki screenings throughout June have made it an eventful first six months for 2008. — Himiona Grace
The Pelorus Trust mediagallery opened 2008 with the exhibition Á jaðrinum. Curated by Auckland-based German curator Leonhard Emmerling, the show collected 15 video works from Iceland that addressed classic Icelandic stereotypes from stoicism to pixies.
There was certainly nothing retiring about Curves and Contrasts - the camera art of Robert Steele (1946). Wearing only gold paint, dancers Freda Stark and Harold Robinson adopt poses of Olympian stature amidst dramatic bursts of light and shadow. Although Steele never screened Curves and Contrasts publicly it remains one of New Zealand’s pioneering experimental films.
Installed in the gallery during this year’s Wellington Film Festival will be Sarah Jane Parton’s Bright Light. Audiences were given a preview of Parton’s blend of pop culture and the post-apocalyptic in her performance Belonging which sold-out three nights in the cinema during the Fringe Festival in March.
The Artist’s Film Festival (AFF) returned to the gallery with 30 new works curated by Wellington-based curator and Listener art writer Paula Booker. In a case of power-to-the-people, visitors were given a remote control and asked to select (or reject) works from a DVD menu. This year’s AFF was possibly the largest collection of artist video ever undertaken in New Zealand and included screenings in the cinema and the Loading Bay street screen. The AFF also toured to Christchurch’s contemporary art space The Physics Room in June.
Excitingly, two of last year’s exhibitions have experienced a second life in other galleries. In March-April Bryce Galloway’s Daddy Doo went to the Film Archive Auckland’s gallery space, while Kathy Dudding’s This is not a family album spent March-April at DAAP Gallery at the University of Cincinnati.
Exhibitions Project Developer Mark Williams was asked by the Adam Art Gallery (Victoria University) to select a New Zealand video artist to profile in the course of their recent retrospective of German video art. On June 12 Gray Nicol presented several of his late 1970s video works at the Film Archive and recreated his 1978 video/performance piece Duck Calling. Gray has subsequently deposited fifteen 1/2” video tapes with the Archive featuring his completed video, works in process and other material.
The World of Interiors.
The most recent exhibition in the mediagallery was Auckland-artist Nova Paul’s The World of Interiors. Filmed in red, green and blue layers the filmic surface of The World of Interiors is composed of buzzing shards of colour influenced by the aspirations and optimism of the Russian Avant-Garde movement Rayonism.
Accompanying the abstract 16mm film are oral recordings made with Paul’s friend Forbes Williams who shares some of his experiences ranging across subjects as diverse as metaphysics, the health care system, relationships, mental well-being, literature, dance parties and his process of collecting ephemera. — Mark Williams
Final Credits: Barry Barclay
Barry Barclay - film maker, challenger, writer, commentator, advocate/agitator, supporter, friend - the list of adjectives is seemingly endless. However these terms are the ones that define him best in the eyes of the Archive. His enormous talent in all of these areas is evident in the legacy of films and writing he leaves to us to treasure, safeguard, and share with the world - on his terms. Terms which are embodied in the Taonga Maori Deposit agreement, of which he was chief architect, along with Barbara Sullivan, almost 20 years ago.
Never one to follow the crowd, Barry pushed the boundaries in all areas of his chosen path. His unique perspective on how things should be for Maori in the world of fi lm and television wasn’t something to be muttered about and endured back in the 1970s, the situation needed to be tackled head-on. And that’s what he did, garnering any available support from colleagues, allies, whanau and whoever else could be persuaded to make a stand. Sometimes he had to do it on his own, with a bullhorn and seat on the side of a busy city street to get the attention of the powers that be in order for change to be achieved.
Change did come, slowly at first, and thankfully, much more rapidly in recent years. So much so, that now we see and expect to see, much more Maori content on our televisions and cinema screens than ever before. That this content is being created about Maori, by Maori, for Maori was a long held dream for many, and Barry was always at the forefront of the charge - albeit with his own particular campaign. Kua tinana te moemoea.
As such, our own relationship with Barry had its ups and downs and despite all of our good intentions, we sometimes found ourselves on opposite sides of the divide. Barry’s own clarity of perspective was not something that was always available to the rest of us. His perseverance and ‘in your face’ attitude, until we did understand and accept what he was saying, is now legendary.
That Barry helped shape the Archive into what it is today is indisputable. His knowledge, integrity, talent and tenacity he shared with us unstintingly, and somewhere along the way we became the best of friends. In our formative years he helped us develop into an organisation he and other Maori could trust with their taonga to ensure its longevity and appropriate access to the world.
We at the Archive mourn and lament his passing along with the film and television industry, students and lovers of the moving image the world over. — Huia Kopua
New Zealand International Film Festivals 2008
The New Zealand International Film Festivals’ live cinema programme features two classics of silent cinema, Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother (1927) and The Freshman (1925). Lloyd was silent comedy’s daredevil, epitomised by his performance in the audience favourite Safety Last. As the clean-cut American kid, eager to do good and do well, Lloyd’s characters not only survived against surprising odds but triumphed through unassuming pluck and guts. As an actor, Lloyd gave his characters credibility through disarmingly natural performances. More than that, he knew exactly how to get the best from a gag and how then to top it with an even funnier one.
In his comic masterpiece The Kid Brother, Lloyd plays Harold Hickory, the youngest son in a family of burly mountain lawmen. When Mary Powers (Jobyna Ralston) arrives in town with a medicine show, it sets brother against brother in one of the finest – and funniest – of all the silent comedies. The Freshman finds Lloyd at college where his initial, pathetic attempts to assimilate into the sophisticated set are transformed by his triumph in the climatic end-of-season football match.
Kids of all ages can revel in three revivals: Hollywood’s definitive swashbuckler, The Adventures of Robin Hood, William Keighley and Michael Curtiz’s rambunctious 1938 masterpiece starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland and that arch[est] of villains, Basil Rathbone; Albert Lamorisse’s classic Red Balloon (1956), in a beautifully restored new print in a double-feature with the same director’s White Mane (1953) and Hungarian-born puppet animator George Pal’s high-spirited 1958 adaptation of the Grimm fairy tale, tom thumb (UK/USA 1958), starring Russ Tamblyn.
Russian film maker, Sergei Loznitsa, has mined Moscow’s film archives to create two semi-documentary films: Blockade (2005), revisiting the epic German siege of Leningrad during World War II and Revue (2008), a compilation of 50s and 60s Soviet propaganda films offering a unique insight into the mindset of a lost time and place.
Taiwanese director Edward Yang died aged 59 in 2007 from cancer. The festival presents a complete retrospective, marking the local premiere of two previously unseen titles (That Day, On the Beach and Mahjong) along with the five features familiar to past festival and Film Society audiences: A Brighter Summer Day, A Confucian Confusion, Taipei Story, The Terroriser and Yi Yi, Yang’s best-known and final movie.
The Wellington Film Festival also hosts the premiere of The Return, a new film by Film Archive staff member and film maker Kathy Dudding. The Return explores the contrasts between the memories of a 90 year-old resident of the city with the film maker’s – her granddaughter. — Steve Russell.
Digital Matters In February in association with Silvertrak Digital and NZ on Air, the Film Archive hosted a well attended two-day conference: Digitised, Presumed Preserved. The conference examined the current state of technology and measure of progress towards genuine digital preservation in the audio-visual field. Keynote speaker was media preservation expert and advocate Jim Lindner of Media Matters, New York.
Comings and Goings The Film Archive welcomes Peter Otzen and Zak Reddan (accessioners/film handlers), Jamie Selby (Front of House), Sharnon Mentor-King (FOH Duty Manager), Gwen Norcliffe and Layla Rudneva-Mackay (part-time assistants at the Auckland office). In recent months we farewelled Erica Andersen (Manager, Visitor Services) and Iona Forsyth (Front of House). Jamie Lean (Director of Operations) has taken twelve months leave to join his family in Melbourne. Joanna Carver Richards has moved from Front of House to job-sharing with Owen Mann (Television Collection Developer) while Owen completes an Honours degree in History at Victoria University.
Milestone Conservation Manager Kurt Otzen celebrated 20 years at the Film Archive on 30 May. He has been caring for and conserving our film collection with the utmost commitment for the past two decades and we recognise and salute his ongoing commitment to the organisation.
International Relations In April Chief Executive Frank Stark took up an invitation from Jim Lindner to visit Media Matters, New York and the Library of Congress’s new National Audio Visual Conservation Centre in Culpeper, Virginia. Also in April, Deputy Chief Executive Huia Kopua attended the 64th annual FIAF Congress in Paris where the focus was on issues of copyright and the role of the international archiving community in supporting activities in developing countries. Following the conference Huia travelled to Ireland to look into TG4, the national Gaelic language broadcaster where programming and archiving activities gave rise to interesting comparisons with the work of the Maori Television Service.
Festival in Poland A comprehensive review of New Zealand Cinema takes place at the annual Era New Horizons Festival, Wroclaw, Poland, 17-27 July. The Film Archive is assisting with prints of The Te Kooti Trail (1927); Color Cry (1952); Flight to Venus (1960); Runaway (1964); Patu! (1983); Footrot Flats: The Dog’s (Tail) Tale (1986) and Mana Waka (1990). Himiona Grace (Poutakawaenga) has been invited by the festival to introduce The Te Kooti Trail; Patu! and Mana Waka.