Some local doco recommendations for the final weekend of the Auckland International Film Festival
SkyCity Theatre, Sunday 2:00pm
The full title of Barefoot Cinema: The Art and Life of Cinematographer Alun Bollinger may be almost as long as the 74-minute film itself, but there's nothing long-winded about this charming and easygoing portrait of one of our great cinematographers. The first word in the title alludes to Bollinger's disdain for footwear - "Going barefoot keeps one in touch with the earth we walk on," he once wrote to the Listener - but it also references the down-to-earth, can-do style of a self-taught artist who has shot everything from Goodbye Pork Pie to River Queen.
Christchurch filmmaker Gerard Smyth has spent a lot of time at the Bollingers' home at Blacks Point, near Reefton, with the happy and apt result that AlBol's wife Helen is equally the film's star.
In reprising some of the cinematographer's finest moments (and providing a more-than-useful primer of the art and science of his trade), the film gives us a compact history of the Kiwi cinema that AlBol was instrumental in inventing. But it is pre-eminently a portrait of a uniquely New Zealand archetype - the greenie, good, keen man - and it shows his work on the big screen it deserves. Peter Calder
FROM STREET TO SKY
SkyCity Theatre, Saturday, 5.30pm
This one-hour documentary tells the story of Tigilau Ness - reggae and roots musician, protester, Polynesian Panther, and father of Che Fu. He's had quite a life. He joined the Panthers aged 20 with staunch views on Maori sovereignty; was jailed following a Springbok Tour protest in 1981; and although he's played music most of his life, it took him 27 years to release his first album, From Street To Sky, in 2003. While the documentary could have introduced Ness in more depth for those not familiar with him, From Street To Sky is an interesting and touching look at a caring rebel, a formidable protester, and talented musician whose songs reflect a life devoted to unity and compassion. He's got a lovely sense of humour, too. He jokes about how he was born at St Helens Hospital in Pitt St which was later turned into a periodic detention centre.
"I went there too," he laughs.