• Boy, The Piano, Slow West and The Dark Horse (SBS)Source: SBS
New Zealand is a leading force in diverse and quality cinema. From Campion to Waititi we have a collection of films from one of the most picturesque countries in the world for you to explore at SBS On Demand.
SBS Guide

18 May 2020 - 11:40 AM  UPDATED 18 May 2020 - 11:40 AM


New Zealand, 2010
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Taika Waititi, James Rolleston
What's it about?
Boy is a dreamer who loves Michael Jackson. He lives with his brother Rocky, a tribe of deserted cousins and his Nan. Boy's other hero, his father, Alamein, is the subject of Boy's fantasies, and he imagines him as a deep-sea diver, war hero and a close relation of Jackson. In reality, he's "in the can for robbery". When Alamein comes home after seven years away, Boy is forced to confront the man he thought he remembered, find his own potential and learn to get along without the hero he had been hoping for. Widely praised as Taika Waititi's best film, we'll let you watch it and decide for yourself.

Slow West

New Zealand, UK, 2015
Genre: Action, Thriller, Western
Language: English
Director: John Maclean
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn
What's it about?
Set at the end of the 19th century, Slow West is an American western filtered through the eyes of European filmmaking. It's offbeat, tense and atmospheric. The story centres on 17-year-old Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who has travelled from Scotland to Colorado to be reunited with the woman with whom he is infatuated. He is quickly confronted by the dangers of the frontier and so teams up with a mysterious traveller named Silas (Michael Fassbender), who agrees to protect him for cash. Jay's journey is fraught with danger, double-crossing and violence as he comes to realise that America is not easy on the innocent. The American Wild West has never looked so beautiful. Slow West is a NZ co-production and was filmed entirely in New Zealand.

Slow West - Review

The Piano

New Zealand, 1993
Genre: Drama
Director: Jane Campion
Starring: Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill
What's it about?
Ada (Holly Hunter), mute since birth, her nine-year-old daughter (Anna Paquin), and her piano arrive to an arranged marriage in the remote bush of 19th-century New Zealand. Of all her belongings, her husband refuses to transport the piano and it is left behind on the beach. Unable to bear its certain destruction, Ada strikes a bargain with an illiterate tattooed neighbour (Harvey Keitel). She may earn her piano back if she allows him to do certain things while she plays – one black key for every lesson. The arrangement draws all three deeper and deeper into a complex emotional bond. Winner of 3 Academy Awards and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or, Jane Campion's stunning film has become a New Zealand classic.

Mr. Pip

Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, 2012
Genre: Drama, War
Director: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Florence Korokoro, Eka Darville, Hugh Laurie
What's it about?
Matilda is a young girl living on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. She is raised by a strict mother and attends school, where her teacher, Mr. Watts (Hugh Laurie), is the only white man in the village. As war descends on her province, she becomes captivated with the character of Pip in the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, who eventually becomes her beacon of hope and gives her the desire to live. Directed by Andrew Adamson, who also wrote and directed the Narnia films (and another little film called Shrek) Mr. Pip is lush, surprising and moving.

Free In Deed

New Zealand, 2015
Genre: Drama
Director: Jake Mahaffy
Starring: David Harewood, Edwina Findley Dickerson, Kathy Smith, Helen Bowman, Alex Coker, Geoff Falk, Jan Falk, Porsha Ferguson, Preston Shannon, Jon W. Sparks
What's it about?
When a single mother brings her young boy to church for healing, a lonely pentecostal minister is forced to confront the seemingly incurable illness of the child – and his own demons as well. The more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control. Based on true events Free In Deed is a raw and captivating film about faith and hope.

Free in Deed

The Breaker Upperers

New Zealand, 2018
Genre: Comedy
Director: Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek
Starring: Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami, Celia Pacquola, James Rolleston, Ana Scotney, Cohen Holloway, Rima Te Wiata, Kelvin Taylor, Jaquie Brown, Nic Sampson, Fraser Harrison Rolleston, Jemaine Clement, Rose Matafeo, Teuila Blakely, Laura Daniel
What's it about?
Fifteen years ago, Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical they became fast friends and formed The Breaker Upperers, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they're in their late thirties and business is booming. They're a platonic, co-dependent couple who keep their cynicism alive by not getting emotionally involved with anybody else. But when they run into an old victim, Mel develops a conscience and their friendship is truly put to the test. A stand-out comedy from the producers of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the film is packed full of Kiwi wit, humour and energy.

'The Breaker Upperers': An Anti-Valentine's Day Comedy Delight
The best joke in ‘The Breaker Upperers’ is about the stuff white people laugh at

The Dark Horse

New Zealand, 2014
Genre: Drama
Director: James Napier Robertson
Starring: Cliff Curtis, James Rolleston
What's it about?
Starring an extraordinary New Zealand cast – Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider), James Rolleston (Boy) and Kirk Torrance (Outrageous Fortune) – The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of a charismatic, brilliant but little-known New Zealand hero and chess champion, Genesis Potini (Gen). This provocative, emotionally charged and inspiring drama is about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own adversities, finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children in his community. It is a film about two lost souls finding the strength to carry on through each other's company, believing in themselves, even if no one else does.

The Dark Horse Review
James Napier Robertson on The Dark Horse and the new wave of New Zealand cinema

The Orator

New Zealand, Samoa, 2011
Genre: Drama
Director: Tusi Tamasese
Starring: Fa'afiaula Sanote, Tausili Pushparaj
What's it about?
Small in stature and humble, Saili lives a simple life with his beloved wife and daughter in an isolated, traditional village in the islands of Samoa. Forced to protect his land and family, Saili must face his fears and seek the right to speak up for those he loves. The Orator is the first-ever Samoan language feature film and represented New Zealand in the Foreign Language Film category at the 2012 Academy Awards.

Director Tusi Tamasese's follow-up film One Thousand Ropes is also available to watch at SBS On Demand.

The Orator: Tusi Tamasese interview
The Orator Review

The Rehearsal

New Zealand, 2016
Genre: Drama
Director: Alison Maclean
Starring: James Rolleston, Kerry Fox, Ella Edward
What's it about?
Stanley, a naive first-year drama student meets Isolde and begins a sweet, first love affair. Goaded by Hannah, the charismatic, domineering Head of Acting, Stanley uncovers a talent and ambition he didn't know he had. When his group hits on a sex scandal that involves Isolde's tennis prodigy sister as fertile material for their end-of-year show, Stanley finds himself profoundly torn. Based on the novel by Eleanor Catton this coming-of-age drama is the first feature film directed by Alison Maclean since 1999's Jesus' Son.

6 Days

New Zealand, United Kingdom, 2017
Genre: Action, Drama, History, Thriller
Director: Toa Fraser
Starring: Jamie Bell, Abbie Cornish, Mark Strong, Martin Shaw, Emun Elliott, Ben Turner, Aymen Hamdouchi
What's it about?
6 Days is a taut thriller telling the incredible true story of six days of terror after six heavily armed gunmen invaded the Iranian Embassy in London's Princes Gate on 30 April 1980, taking 26 people hostage. Negotiators, police, politicians and the military wrestle over the correct response, all observed by some of the world's first live TV news coverage. Director Toa Fraser also directed the epic New Zealand film The Dead Lands, which was developed into a TV series this year.

What We Do in the Shadows

New Zealand, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Director: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Starring: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonny Brugh
What's it about?
Flatmates Viago (Taika Waititi), Deacon (Jonny Brugh), and Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) are three vampires who are just trying to get by in modern society; from paying rent and sticking to the housework roster to trying to get invited in to nightclubs, they’re just like anyone else - except they’re immortal and must feast on human blood. When their 8000 year-old flatmate, Petyr, turns 20-something human hipster, Nick, into a vampire, the guys must teach him the ropes and guide him through his new found eternal life. And in return they are forced to learn a thing or two about modern society, fashions and technology.  Written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, this mockumentary style film has already achieved a cult status. It has even pawned it's own television series spin-off (with a new cast).

Don't miss it, What We Do in the Shadows expires from SBS On Demand by May 28 2020.


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