Story: Experimental film

Page 3. Technology and venues, the 2000s

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Technological developments

In the 2000s editing suites were replaced by computers. While a number of experimental film-makers continued to value the aesthetic qualities and physicality of film, new technologies became the norm.


Two works made on video by Martin Rumsby, Browns barbeque (2006) and For Dots (2008) focused on African American family life and street culture in Chicago. Rumsby had been part of New Zealand’s experimental film community before leaving for Canada in 1985. A distributor of films as well as a maker, Rumsby returned to New Zealand every few years with a suitcase of North American experimental work.

Between 1996 and 2010 New Zealand expatriate Peter Wareing used several generations of video technology to make the feature-length documentary Not everybody can do everything. Shot in a New York home for blind people with severe mental disability, the film is a moving portrait of love, friendship and loss.


Young film-makers based in Wellington (dubbed the Aro Valley movement) made a series of feature-length narrative dramas, which they edited and assembled on computer editing suites. Often based on extended takes, works such as Uncomfortable comfortable (1999) by Campbell Walker and Shifter (2000) by Colin Hodson were about unsustainable relationships.

Nova Paul's This is not dying (2010) was based on filmed studies of daily life around her marae, Maungarongo, under the mountain Whatitiri. Observing food preparation, leisure and interaction in communal space, Paul's original 16-mm images were later transformed by an optical printing technique called three-colour separation into a series of vivid, evocative after-images.


M. D. Brown's seldom-seen 8-mm dramas On the low shore (2001) and Falling out (2004) were explorations of memory and youth. Alternating passages of black with recollected images of friends and encounters, they unravelled as late-night ruminations. Also adopting the monologue, Gabriel White made a number of travelogues characterised by a stream-of-consciousness address to camera.

The diverse styles of Alex Monteith's surrealist film Pause the rising tide (2000) and feature-length documentary Chapter and verse (2001) marked her as one of the strongest and most diverse voices in experimental film. Her subsequent work focused primarily on gallery-based video installations. In 2011 a 35-mm short film, 2.5 kilometre mono action for a mirage, marked her brief return to cinema.

The 2010s

Sean Grattan's HADHAD (2012) and Carmen San Diego out of work and on the run (2011) were ambitious explorations of contemporary malaise. Shot in the United States, they featured characters drawn from suburbia and Hollywood whose cultural systems threatened to collapse inward.

Berlin-based Andrew de Freitas made a number of 16-mm film and video works which challenge the audience’s perceptions of everyday places and activities.

Photographer turned film-maker Gavin Hipkins made a number of short works that adapted 19th-century literary references to contemporary settings. The quarry (2013) addressed the post-earthquake reconstruction of Christchurch, with a voiceover based on the writings of John Ruskin.

Sorawit Songsataya is an artist situated between post-medium and post-internet art. He combines available online footage, documentary, music and films with footage he has shot himself.

How to cite this page:

Mark Williams, 'Experimental film - Technology and venues, the 2000s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 April 2024)

Story by Mark Williams, published 22 Oct 2014