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New Zealand Movies


New Zealand Movies

Movies in New Zealand

Dubbed by the American Film Institute as "one of the wonders of the world... an unparalleled success story", the film industry of New Zealand is truly amazing.


Surely the population of filmmakers from New Zealand who have gained the attention of the world is well beyond what the nation's small population and separate location from major city centers of culture might be anticipated to have presented.

The success of the industry has been based on the practice of versatility and modernization which has influenced the industry from its younger days.


Those values of industry have been preserved, not just out of need, but due to the well-built value New Zealanders place on doing things that way.


The first movies were presented in New Zealand as long ago as 1896, but the film industry’s 1st phase started in 1913 when 3 films directed by Gaston Melies founded on the stories of the Maori, were shown.


These were “Loved by a Maori Chieftainess”, “How Chief Te Ponga Won His Bride”, and “Hinemoa”. Approximately 28 movies were produced in the next 30 years. These included the 1922 film “The Birth of New Zealand”, the 1925 flick “Rewi’s Last Stand”, and “Down on the Farm” shown in 1935.

The present phase in the filmmaking industry in New Zealand started in the 1970s with a film production revolution. Over 200 movies have been produced in the thirty years since the 1977 flick “Sleeping Dogs” by Roger Donaldson.
New Zealand went on to produce directors who were successful such as the director of the hits of 2001 “Rain” and 2003 “Sylvia” Christine Jeffs, and director Niki Caro who’s works were 2002 “Whale Rider” and 2005 “North Country”.
Perhaps the industry’s highpoint production came with the 2001-2003 “The Lord of the Rings trilogy” by director Peter Jackson. Those 3 movies, with technology effects of produced at the Wellington facilities of Jackson, were the best proof of the production and technical abilities of New Zealand’s film industry at any level.


This decade has seen the rise of new young filmmakers of New Zealand making names for themselves globally, pursuing a wide array of genres and themes.

A number like the makers of “Black Sheep” (Jonathan King, 2007), “The Ferryman” (Chris Graham, 2007) and “The Tattooist” (Peter Burger, 2007) have joyfully specialized in horror of a supernatural nature. Horror and science fiction have combined in “Perfect Creature“ by Glenn Standring (2007), a truly unique manner of reinventing the vampire myth set against an alternate variation of the 1960s.

The film industry of New Zealand has also allowed for a showcase for its local actors, several of whom have become famous internationally. The career of Sam Neill (of “Jurassic Park” and “The Piano” fame) was established with “Sleeping Dogs”, and he has become one of the most successful actors of New Zealand.

New Zealand Movies

Other notable actors from New Zealand are Anna Paquin (New Zealand’s first actor to win an Academy Award for her performance in “The Piano”), and Keisha Castle-Hughes of “Whale Rider” fame was also nominated for the coveted award.



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