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Groundbreaking documentaries to screen

18 October 2004

Alister Barry's groundbreaking documentaries to screen on television

Eight years after its first screening a groundbreaking documentary on the impact of an abrupt change in New Zealand's political and social agenda is screening on mainstream television over Labour Weekend.

Alister Barry's Someone Else's Country was a hit at the 1996 New Zealand International Film Festival and videotape bestseller.

A powerful historical documentary of the Roger Douglas/Ruth Richardson revolution of 1984, this film captures the anguish, anger and political extremism of the 1980s and 1990s. Someone Else's Country and Barry's follow-up production, In the Land of Plenty, will screen for the first time on network television.

Both films were produced with the help of the Screen Innovation Fund, a partnership between Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand Film Commission, which supports emerging or experienced moving-image makers for innovative, often low-budget, moving-image productions.

Barry says without the Fund's support, the films would never have been made and his foray into documentary-making might have been short-lived.

"The New Right story may never have been told if these documentaries hadn't been supported," Barry says. "This movement was an aberration that excluded most New Zealanders but had the most profound influence on their lives.

"Two decades on from 1984 few people would dispute the fact that this was little more than an experiment gone wrong, but now people can judge for themselves.

"I'm thrilled at this opportunity to share vitally important social and historical information with mainstream New Zealand, albeit nearly a decade after I completed Someone Else's Country."
Barry's experience as a documentary-maker began in 1973 when, as part of the anti-nuclear protest, he felt compelled to record the political debate surrounding French nuclear testing.

He volunteered to go on a protest ship to document the struggles of anti-war protesters, and worked with fellow artists to turn this footage into a 16mm black and white film entitled Mururoa 1973.

This was later viewed by more than 100,000 New Zealanders on network television, marking Barry's start as one of our more outspoken social commentators.

His working life today is not much different to what it was then. It is Barry's "self-discipline and plodding determination" that has underpinned his success as a New Zealand documentary-maker.

He approaches each film he makes as an individual project, and also works part-time as a film technician.

"I find it difficult to be a public person. I enjoy everything about making documentaries other than the publicity it requires. Whenever my photo appears in the paper I always think people are staring at me on the train."

He claims this "imagined recognition" fades after a few days. After the Labour Weekend screenings in thousands of New Zealand homes, Alister Barry's message is likely to linger longer than his "imagined recognition".

TV One is screening his films, Someone Else's Country and In a Land of Plenty at noon on Sunday 24 October and Monday 25 October respectively.

ENDS


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