31 Jul 2016

The National Film Unit

From Standing Room Only, 12:14 pm on 31 July 2016

The National Film Unit closed down in 1990, leaving us hundreds of documentaries, films and TV dramas, tourism promos and newsreels covering wars and sporting events through to very personal stories.  It was also a training ground for many big players in our film and TV industries, including actor Sam Neil and directors John Laing, Sam Pillsbury and  Hugh Macdonald and cameramen like Lynton Diggle and Brian Brake.  NZ On Screen has launched a collection to mark the 75th anniversary of the National Film Unit and its rich and diverse collection.  It includes the unit's well known series Weekly Review, Pictorial Parade and New Zealand Mirror, as well as its first film, the 1941 wartime morale booster Country Lads, Snows of Aorangi by Brian Brake - the first  NFU film to be nominated for an Academy Award -  through to footage of chimps on bikes as part of a government road safety message.  In the first of a two-part RNZ documentary about the National Film Unit's history and legacy, Lynn Freeman talks to film historians Dr Simon Sigley and Dr Roger Horrocks:  Archives New Zealand also has an on-line collection of NFU productions, while Nga Taonga Sound and Vision is home to interviews with many NFU personnel. Thanks also to Te Ara online Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

Mauriora concert party NFU film circa 1963

Mauriora concert party NFU film circa 1963 Photo: Hugh McDonald