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Reel Life in Canterbury

CHRISTCHURCH (1928). Courtesy of the Film Archive stills
A DAUGHTER OF CHRISTCHURCH (1928). Courtesy of the Film Archive stills collection.


Reel Life in Canterbury

The Canterbury region’s spectacular past will come to life in cinematic splendor next month, when the New Zealand F ilm Archive and New Zealand Historic Places Trust partner to present a programme of films made between 1910 and 2011. The films will be screened in seven NZHPT registered heritage buildings.

The programme looks back on some of the enchanting and thrilling moments of life in Canterbury over the past 100 years. The films, which show people at work, at home and at play around the region, all showcase the creative spirit and adaptability of Cantabrians.

Reel Life in Canterbury will run from 14 - 22 September 2013, starting in Christchurch, stopping in Ashburton, Timaru, Waimate, Fairlie and Waiau, and finishing in Kaikoura.

Curated by Jane Paul (National Programmes Manager, NZFA), the screening programme includes 17 short films. The films will be screened in NZHPT registered historic buildings, which have long been prominent in local community life, courtesy of the landowners.

Among the screening venues are St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Christchurch and the Gladstone Grand Hotel in Fairlie.

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Local historians will introduce each screening and live accompaniment to the silent films on the programme will be provided by musicians Jan Preston and Mike Pullman. Preston, a pianist, has played at festivals and concerts throughout New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Europe and China. She tours her own shows (she has just returned from a tour performing in Europe) and writes music for films and television, including her sister Gaylene Preston’s film, Home By Christmas (2010). Pullman is a percussionist, who originally played wash board in Wellington jug bands.

“The most important aspect of our outreach programme is to engender an understanding and appreciation of the value of our built heritage,” says Zoe Roland (Area Co-ordinator Canterbury / West Coast, NZHPT). “This tour certainly succeeds at that! It’s wonderful to see that connection between one’s own history and built heritage being made. The local films and historians and the live music make this connection possible – it’s a unique and very compatible relationship."

The earliest film on the programme is a home movie made in 1910. The film shows the Hinge family enjoying time together in their home and garden at 10 Berry St, St Albans, Christchurch. This film is the oldest home movie in the Film Archive’s collections.

Also to be screened is beloved community comedy, A Daughter of Christchurch (1928). In this film a pretty new schoolteacher arrives in town, and is wooed by two suitors: Freddy Fishface, a shady journalist, and Bill Cowcocky, a handsome farmer. The plot is fast and furious with the men battling to outwit each other. It all culminates with a fistfight on the banks of the Avon. Starring Christchurch locals Jane Kinsey, Don Harvey and Edwin Williams. A Daughter of Christchurch is one of 23 community comedies made by director Rudall Hayward in different New Zealand towns between 1928 and 1929. In each town Hayward engaged locals as stars and crew, filming from a stock script (only the names and local attractions changed from film to film, the plot remained the same). Only a few of the community comedies survive. The other Canterbury community comedy, A Daughter of Timaru (1929), has not been discovered.

One of the themes of the programme is Christchurch architecture. Reel Life in Canterbury features footage of several buildings that did not survive the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in decades past. Examples include The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street, Sumner and Lyttelton residential areas, the Cathedral and the Works Department Building. Excerpts from the 2011 documentary When A City Falls will also be shown - this film presents the accounts of people who lived through this event.

As well as the Christchurch footage, films made in Fairlie, Lake Tekapo, Kaikoura, Timaru, Waimate and across the Canterbury region will be shown.

Among other films, Off For Mount Cook (1926), a government publicity film, shows views of Fairlie, Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki. Tourists ski and make snowmen, then dance at The Hermitage, “New Zealand’s best tourist hotel."

A 1930s home movie by Brian Little documents country life on a North Canterbury sheep farm, Hui Hui. Workers cut oats with horse power, then drink tea in field at smoko. Brian Little was the grandson of James Little, the originator of the Corriedale sheep breed.

Another notable Canterbury resident, Sir William Hamilton, the inventor behind the Hamilton Jet waterjet, features in home movie footage. Hamilton’s innovations during the 1950s revolutionised the boating world. The film shows scenes of Hamilton and his family at Lake Tekapo during the 1930s - including his children iceskating on the lake while wearing an elaborate horse costume.

Details for this film and architecture tour are as follows:

Entrance to all screenings $5, door sales only.

Screening programme runs 75 minutes.


St Michael’s and All Angels Church, 84 Oxford Tce 4pm and 7.30pm SUNDAY 15 SEPTEMBER - ASHBURTON

Longbeach, 1034 Lower Beach Road

Landing Services Building, 2 George Street 7pm THURSDAY 19 SEPTEMBER - WAIMATE

St Patrick’s Basillica, Timaru Rd

Gladstone Grand Hotel, 43-49 Main St

Waiau Coronation Library and Hall, Cheviot St 7.30pm SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER - KAIKOURA

St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 11 Deal St 3pm


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