New Zealand cinema has never established a strong production base, but nevertheless has produced several distinguished film-makers who have had an important impact on world film culture. These range from Len Lye, who developed innovative animation practices in the 1930s, to Jane Campion.
Early feature film production in New Zealand was sporadic at best. From 1940 to 1970, for example, only three New Zealand features were made, all by John O'Shea, whose Pacific Films survived into the boom to come Interest, and production, picked up in the 1970s perhaps spurred on by the 'film renaissance' in Australia at the time. A film. commission began operation in 1977 and tax incentives were introduced to stimulate production. The result was better than anyone would have predicted: features of exceptional quality from Roger Donaldson, Geoff Murphy, Vincent Ward, and others.
The original tax incentives were wound up in 1984, and production faltered but did not entirely cease. Latterly, the internationally prominent work of Ward and Jane Campion has been produced in a context which also supports a strong middlebrow liberal cinema in the work of Ian Mune, Sam Pillsbury, and Barry Barclay, the gorecomedies of Peter Jackson and a kind of poverty-row art film perhaps most easily recognized currently in Alison MacLean 's Crush ( 1993). By the end of 1994, New Zealand had made a strong international impression with Jack son 's fourth feature, Heavenly Creatures, and Lee Tamahori's first, Once Were Warriors.
If Jane Campion is currently the best-known New Zealand film-maker in the world, Ian Mune is the most important historically. Mune has acted, written, and directed with some distinction since 1977, but his actual significance lies in his tireless championing of film production in and of New Zealand, through which he has set himself the heart of the contemporary industry.
The future of a small industry is difficult to predict because so much depends on so few films. New Zealand's recent record of critical and box office success has thus been unexpected, but it is possible that exception rules this country's film industry.
Reid, Nicholas ( 1986), A Decade of New Zealand Film: Sleeping Dogs to Came a Hot Friday.
Sowry, Clive ( 1984), Film Making in New Zealand.
Like the United States, the Canadian nation was formed by the dispossession of an original native population by successive waves of immigration from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onwards. But unlike its southern neighbour, Canada never successfully rebelled against colonial tutelage; nor (at least until recently) has it been a melting-pot of various ethnicities. It is principally composed of two distinct and erstwhile warring national elements -- the French and the English -- and the international conflicts of the past remain in the form of a bitter, internal division between the separatist-minded Quebec and the traditional, loyalist-minded rest of Canada. The repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, finally achieved in 1982, brought definitive independence from Britain but left Canada overshadowed by the neighbouring United States in a relationship described by Canada's former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as 'like sleeping next to an elephant'.
THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD AND THE DOCUMENTARY Within the Canadian context culture was wielded as a tool rather than a weapon, as exemplified in the mandate of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) which was created in 1939 'to interpret Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world'. The NFB has been an unqualified success story. Set up after the virtual collapse of the Canadian film industry, wiped out by the powerful, vertically integrated, Hollywood machine, the NFB was the result of an inspired piece of federal legislation. Recognizing the impracticality of competing directly with Hollywood, the architects of the NFB instead created a national institution within which Canadians were able to develop a parallel and alternative film culture. Equally inspired was the first choice of Film Commissioner, John Grierson, whose work at the GPO and Crown Film Units in Britain in the 1930s had already established both him and the emerging documentary form as a new force in world cinema.