“A film made and received on its own terms will often say more about this country than one fixated on the literal and the absolute.”
Concluding this cycle of “The Lumière Reader presents” web series of original essay films and digital documentaries is Out of the Mist, an alternate reading of New Zealand’s obscure film heritage assembled and illustrated with excerpts from over 70 feature films, shorts, documentaries, and artworks. Motivated, in part, by the long absence of another major documentary on our film history—the last being Sam Neill’s Cinema of Unease made for the BFI’s Century of Cinema series in 1995—it has also been inspired by other film essays which examine social and cultural history through the lens of cinema, in particular Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself.
Written and directed by The Lumière Reader’s founding editor, Tim Wong, Out of the Mist encompasses a conversation shared with fellow cinephiles and filmmakers about the state of New Zealand Cinema, how we might begin to redefine it, and whose work is being obscured by the popular canon. It is not only an archeology of films and filmmakers forgotten or ignored, but a study of images both celebrated and outdated, a form of advocacy for art on the margins, and a challenge to the status quo around how national identity is represented in our movies.
Made with funding from NZ On Air, Out of the Mist premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival on July 20, and was released online on November 5th. It was preceded by Paper Boat, Alex Mitcalfe Wilson’s meditation on professional book making, and Land of the Long White Stain, Claire Duncan’s love letter to a brood of genre-bending Auckland musicians. Future installments to the series are currently in development.
The producers wish to take this opportunity to thank Eleanor Catton for her narration, editor Peter O’Donoghue for assembling and finessing the numerous clips and reproductions used on this film, Daniel Rose and Andy Palmer for their photography, Svenda Ström and Jason Erskine for their ambient score, and all the artists and filmmakers who generously contributed materials.