Observations: Studies in New Zealand Documentary
Published September 2011
In recent times New Zealanders have engaged in battle over who we are and what we would like our country to be, and documentary film has been in the thick of it. From the picket lines of industrial conflict to the occupied ground of Maori land rights campaigns, from the stormy skirmishes of womens liberation to disputed histories of the New Zealand Wars or the New Right revolution a century later, the filmmakers have been there, documenting the action and deliberately or inadvertently helping forge a sense of national identity. They have been there, too, chronicling the work of our artists and poets, our musicians and Kiwiana exponents, as they struggle to express the meaning of a life in Aotearoa. Observations is a series of despatches from the front, commentaries on the fray from an admittedly partisan reporter who is both critic and filmmaker himself.
Dr Russell Campbell is Adjunct Professor of Film at Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author of Marked Women: Prostitutes and Prostitution in the Cinema (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006; CHOICE Award for Outstanding Academic Title) and Cinema Strikes Back: Radical Filmmaking in the United States 1930-1942 (UMI Research Press, 1982). As a documentary filmmaker his work includes Sedition: The Suppression of Dissent in World War II New Zealand (Media Peace Award, 2005), Rebels in Retrospect (1991), and Wildcat (co-directed, 1981). He founded the film journal The Velvet Light Trap in the United States, and is a former editor of the New Zealand magazine Illusions.