Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi – What We Do in the Shadows (2014)


One of the funnest films of 2014 is misfit-vampire-roommate mockumentary “What We Do In The Shadows”

Follow the lives of Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonathan Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) – three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life’s obstacles-like being immortal vampires who must feast on human blood. Hundreds of years old, the vampires are finding that beyond sunlight catastrophes, hitting the main artery, and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection-modern society has them struggling with the mundane like paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, trying to get into nightclubs, and overcoming flatmate conflicts. Continue reading

Vincent Ward – In Spring One Plants Alone (1980)


“A thoroughly devastating documentary on 82 year old Maori woman’s struggle for survival.”
Los Angeles Times

This is the story of Puhi, an aged Maori woman and Niki, her fully grown but wholly dependent son. The world they occupy is not a world of large events but the rituals of everyday life, traditions and interdependence. “In Spring One Plants Alone” documents the minutiae of their very enclosed existence. Filmed over a period of one and a half years, it emerges as a rare, haunting and powerful portrayal of their life together. This is the story of their rituals and of their survival. The small and disconnected instances that we encounter form a lone vision of the rifts and the bond between an old woman and her disturbed son. Continue reading

Geoff Murphy – UTU (1983)


During the New Zealand Maori Wars, Lance Corporal Te Wheke becomes enraged when a British military raid destroys a village and murders his fellow tribe members. Deciding he’s had enough, Te Wheke takes up “utu”, an eternal vengeance quest against the white man and his establishment.

Using extreme violence, Te Wheke murders and pillages churches and farms, rousing his fellow domesticated Maori into fighting alongside him while doing so. On one raid, Te Wheke kills the wife of the wrong man, Williamson, and sets Williamson off into his own murderous rage against the Maori raiders.

Stuck in the middle of all this madness is a young British army officer, Lt. Scott. Returning home to New Zealand after years in South Africa, he finds the natives and the British armies fighting a senseless and violent war over a series of senseless events and mistakes.

The three men’s paths cross, lit in their own ways by the passions of utu, which provides the ultimate test for whether British justice is justice at all for the Maori people. Continue reading

Niki Caro – Whale Rider (2002)


Nominated for Oscar. Another 29 wins & 28 nominations.

From IMDb:

“The film presents a glimpse of the Maori society in New Zealand’s North Island. Having visited New Zealand, but not being very familiar with the Maori culture, this film was a refreshing way to learn some aspects of it.

The story presented here has a lot to do with pride and tradition, which is a running theme among different cultural groups the world over. It has to do with the frustration of Koro by the defection of his eldest son, the designated heir of hundred years of a bloodline where only the males can carry the knowledge and the legends from one generation to the next. Continue reading

Niki Caro – Memory & Desire (1998)



Sayo and Keiji elope to New Zealand to get away from Keiji’s interfering mother. On their honeymoon they are free to express all their desires and passions, but just when it should be their happiest times, Keiji cannot make love and is accidentally drowned. As tradition dictates, Sayo must return to live with her mother-in-law. However, Sayo can only find a modicum of peace by returning to the New Zealand beach where Keiji drowned. NZ Videos Continue reading