Book review: New Zealand Film an illustrated history

This book is in stores now and is a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards.

For a little country we sure punch above our weight when it comes to film making, but parochial little scrappers yapping around the feet of the big boys we are not.

New Zealand’s film industry has long been sophisticated in what it creates even if what goes on behind the scenes isn’t as extravagant as studios in countries 10 times our size. So who better to compile a definitive history of New Zealand film than The New Zealand Film Archive?

Released in 2011 as part of their 30th year celebrations, this catalogues in detail everything from our first film screening (1896) to our first New Zealand-made film less than three years later right through to the experimental ’60s and ’70s, booming early ’80s, increasingly international ’90s; the early 2000’s that saw Peter Jackson ascend his throne and finally, the films we’re making these days, revelling in all things New Zealand but on a bigger international stage than ever before. It’s not surprising that this is a finalist in the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards.

Beautifully bound with a stunning design featuring gorgeous colour photos and an accompanying DVD, this is a tome that will appeal to both the casual Kiwi filmgoer as much as a dyed in the wool film aficionado.

Written by a range of academics, industry experts and devoted fans of the art form, it’s easy to read – not too academic yet not too plainly written. One thing is for sure, when it comes to learning about the history of New Zealand cinema, no other title comes anywhere close to this from both a research and analysis point of view. Every home should own this. No argument.

Reviewed by Sarah McMullan.

New Zealand Film an illustrated history
Edited by: Diane Pivac with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald
Published by Te Papa Press in association with the New Zealand Film Archive
ISBN 9781877385667


GIVEAWAY
In conjunction with this review we had four copies of the book to give away. Congratulations to Ben, Stephanie, Jacki and Penny who were our winners. We picked them using random.org – a random number generator.