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Behaviours Of The Backpacker Doco. Airs On TV1

PRESS RELEASE—for immediate release


Walking the 500km from Auckland to Cape Reinga is no walk in the park, but Chinese/Hungarian-American filmmaker Sándor Lau did it and carried a videocamera with him. The resulting documentary, BEHAVIOURS OF THE BACKPACKER, screens Saturday, June 26, 2:40pm on TV1.

In the course of shooting, Sándor swam across a river with his (film school’s) camera, learned to catch eels by hand, and hiked up to forty-two kilometers a day with his gear, sometimes filming interviews the same day. Not an easy schedule, but he says, “You’re not going to be sitting around in your old age thinking, ‘You know, I wish I spent more time in suburbia.’”

The story of the film focuses on the people Lau meets on his journey, mainly other backpackers, hostel owners, and the Mäori communities of Moerewa and Ngawha. The director says, “War-torn countries produce refugees, impoverished countries produce emigrants, and decadent countries produce backpackers.” The story ends with the Mäori whakatauki which says you spend your life walking backwards because you see only where you’ve been, not where you’re going.

The road to getting the documentary on air was even longer, and at times more difficult than the road from Auckland to the Cape. Lau, a former US Fulbright scholar, completed the hour-long film with a shoestring $12,000 budget granted by the Screen Innovation Production Fund (a partnership between Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission) and Fulbright New Zealand. (Typical NZ television doco budgets are around $140,000 and Discovery Channel is about US$1million). Linda Halle, of the Screen Innovation Production Fund says, “Sándor’s documentary is an amazing achievement. Screening and distribution options are very limited for these low-budget, ‘adventurous’ films, especially in the area of television broadcasting. Government funding for documentaries has decreased $7.5 million since 2002, but this one has beat the odds.”

BEHAVIOURS OF THE BACKPACKER was shot entirely on digital video, using a small portable camera, with the director doing all his walking and shooting alone. Lau claims, “The way you do your shooting actually changes the content of what you can create. There’s a certain intimacy you can get when you’re alone using a camera that looks like it came from the Warewhare. You can tell a lot of stories that can’t be purchased for any budget.” He also says the respect earned by walking gained the trust of many subjects who might not have opened up under other circumstances.

The film’s subjects come from Scotland, Australia, Israel, Japan, USA, Holland, France, and Päkeha and Mäori New Zealanders, and the film itself takes place in Auckland, Waipu Cove, Whangarei, Paihia, Waitangi, Moerewa, Ngawha, Kohukohu, Kaitaia and Cape Reinga. Music by Ralph Bennett, Matthew Brennan, Rerewa Kingi, Karl Paraha, Thomas Attwood, and Sándor Lau. VHS screeners, EPK, and high-res stills available on request. An excerpt of Behaviours of the Backpacker is online at .

Contact Sándor Lau at

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