Like our dear country, the selection of New Zealand music movies isn't large, but it's quality. So why not celebrate New Zealand Music Month by watching some of the best New Zealand music movies.
Oscar Kightley directed this fist pump-inducing celebration of the hip-hop label that brought South Auckland's cultural force to all of New Zealand, and then the world.
Co-founders Andy Murnane and Danny "Brotha D" Leaosavai'i started by selling T-shirts at the Ōtara markets, and went on to help define contemporary Kiwi hip-hop and R'n'B with artists like Deceptikonz, Adeaze and Aaradhna.
More so than many Kiwi music documentaries, this explores our popular music's relationship with America, and the complex challenges of trying to break that market. Although the sunny film perhaps could've been a bit more acknowledging of artist discontent, there's no denying all the bangers that roll out.
Footrot Flats - The Dog's Tale (1986)
In the 1980s, a blockbuster wasn't a blockbuster without an accompanying hit song that helped promote the film. Think Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone from Top Gun, or Ray Parker jnr's 'Ghostbusters' from, er, Ghostbusters...
The only time this ever happened (properly) with a New Zealand film concerned cartoonist Murray Ball's animated adaptation of his iconic comic strip about life on the farm. Dave Dobbyn teamed up with Herbs for the smash hit Slice of Heaven, a ridiculously catchy number that has arguably endured in the public consciousness better than the movie. Another Dave Dobbyn pearler, You Oughta Be in Love, also features on the soundtrack.
Swagger of Thieves (2017)
They had hit songs, stadium tours, and a moment in the 90s when it looked like they were going to drag the whole world down to their sleazy, greasy, hard-rocking level. But two pivotal members of Wellington's Head Like a Hole also had heavy drug addictions that dissolved their global dreams like white powder on a heating spoon.
Director Julian Boshier spent a decade filming the rockers and enjoyed a level of access most doco-makers can only dream of as he captured the band at their glitzy highs, their gutter lows and then somewhere in the middle as they attempted to stage a comeback after finally cleaning up. Swagger of Thieves is a cautionary tale, a celebration of the power of rock, and bloody entertaining.
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The Chills - The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps (2019)
The very storied history of one of New Zealand's greatest-ever bands is told through the eyes of its only constant: frontman Martin Phillipps, a troubled genius if ever there was one.
Introduced pottering around his cluttered Dunedin flat, Julia Parnell's documentary is framed by some serious health issues faced by Phillipps. It's an appropriately dour introduction to the man who played a key role in the development of the now-iconic "Dunedin sound". With more than 25 members cycling in and out of The Chills' line-up throughout the years, there's plenty of ground to cover, and of course a number of magnificent tracks.
Flight of the Conchords: Live In London (2018)
This movie-length concert special is the closest thing we have to a Flight of the Conchords movie (so far?), so we're including it. They're too important.
For a long time prior to the emergence of the internationally successful musical comedy duo, funny songs were either funny or musically accomplished, but rarely both. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, channelling a casual Kiwi party "pick-up-a-guitar" attitude, fused humour and melody like never before across years of live shows and two seasons of a beloved TV series. Several of their greatest triumphs (Father and Son, Inner City Pressure) can be heard in this filmed performance, and they also cut a pretty nice line in onstage banter.