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Hollow Men Director Promises Fresh Revelations

Hollow Men Director Promises Fresh Revelations

Auckland International Film Festival

By Natasha Burling Interviews The Hollow Men director Alister Barry

We’ve had the book, the play and now the movie. Many will wonder if the film The Hollow Men is political overload.

However, there is no doubt this documentary will inspire a great deal of curiosity following investigative writer Nicky Hager’s recent allegations about the National Party.

Quietly spoken but determined Barry says the germ of the idea for the movie came when he attended the infamous “Orewa One” speech. (Image: Alister Barry, by Kevin List.)

“I was aghast at the way in which he was so brazenly using the race card. I decided it would be a good idea to make a film that followed the political techniques that National used coming up to the 2005 election,” he says.

Hager was simultaneously researching a book on the subject, which was published in 2006.

Barry says Hager was an invaluable resource for the movie and was like a “walking encyclopedia.”

The Wellington-based director assures me that the film is different from both the book and the play as it has a more serious tone and contains some completely new material. He promises further revelations in the film from material Hager has recently acquired.

The film builds on the book, showing the way it has affected history and ends with John Key, the current leader of the National Party.

When asked if he is seeking to push a particular political agenda, Barry says the viewer’s political affiliation does not matter.

Although the movie is about the tactics of the National Party, Barry points out that it shows the nature of today’s politics: “It is a study of modern politics in our type of democracy,” he says.

Barry says the film reveals what goes on behind the scenes in political campaigns.

“The overall objective has been much the same as that of serious journalists or serious historians- to shine a light on the way in which power works in society,” he says.

The film is the most empowering one he has made, he says. “If my fellow citizens can be better informed, that gives them more power over their own lives and they have the ability to make their world better reflect the values they hold.”

Barry says the Labour party’s policies such as improving healthcare and education are actually what most people want.

He adds that at least the Act party is honest in declaring their policies but criticises National for “presenting policies in a way that is less than straightforward.”

Barry argues that National’s actual policies are not widely popular: “Their policies don’t attract the majority of New Zealanders.”

A TV One Colmar Brunton poll on June 22 showed National leading with 55 per cent and Labour behind with 29 per cent. This followed a Fairfax Media poll the Saturday before by AC Nielsen showing National winning 54 per cent against Labour's 30 per cent.

He seems staunchly anti-National, describing their tactics as “dark arts to create a candidate and policy campaign."

When questioned about if the release of the movie deliberately coincides with election year, Barry points out that it takes a long time to make documentaries and this niche film fits into the film festival.

The advantage of the movie is that it presents the material that was leaked to Nicky Hager in a form that is “comprehensible, entertaining and accessible” and gets the message across in just 100 minutes, says Barry.

Secrecy surrounds this documentary and even festival director Bill Gosden will not get to see the finished film before its premiere at the festival.

The film will undoubtedly spark debate if not controversy. Barry is prepared to front up to any criticism and will be available for questions at all 18 screenings of the film around the country.

Screenings: Thursday July 24, 6.15pm and Friday July 25th, 11.45am at Sky City Theatre


Natasha Burling is an AUT journalism student doing the Graduate Diploma in Journalism. She has lived in Colombia, France and Scotland.


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