Kiwi Documentaries: Locked and Loaded – Show Me Shorts

By Clayton Barnett

The Loading Docs initiative produces ten short (3-minute) New Zealand documentaries each year. They’ve just unveiled the new films, and our team at Show Me Shorts is super impressed with the boldness and diversity.

I’ve picked my three favourites of this year’s crop for you here. Funny, moving and joyous, these shorts introduce us to real New Zealanders with something to say about culture, conservation, connection, sex, death, fear and hope.

Asian Men Talk About Sex

Talking about sex on camera isn’t easy, but imagine interviewing your dad about it. Director Chye-Ling Huang had a frank conversation with hers – on the culturally taboo subject of sex. The result is a cracking short full of sparkling energy and wry humour.

All eight men interviewed in Asian Men Talk About Sex provide candid and often hilarious answers to questions about Asian stereotypes in film, TV and real life. Old and young, straight and gay, they quickly dispel notions of themselves as a homogenous group of sexless math-whizzes with small… um, equipment.

Director Huang is a co-founder of the the Proudly Asian Theatre company. Her first documentary is well-handled, bold and consistently entertaining. We look forward to more.

Ajax the Kea Conservation Dog

Department of Conservation kea-expert Corey Mosen is passionate about preserving our wildlife. In this gorgeously cinematic short documentary we meet Corey and his best mate Ajax, the endangered kea conservation dog.

Director/cinematographer/editor Michael Weatherall endured harsh mountaintop elements whilst in pursuit of that perfect shot. He pulls out all the tricks in this film – showing off the rugged landscape of the South Island with a combination of slow-motion, time-lapse, Go-Pro and drone footage.

It’s a gorgeous watch, but it’s the emotional journey that’s really captivating. The film is a tantalising insight into the life of an inspiring and passionate New Zealander.

The Coffin Club

Award-winning documentary director Briar March (There Once Was an Island) chose a surprising way to tell a story dealing with death – a musical. The result of this bold choice is a joyous musical short documentary. The Coffin Club introduces us to a group of seniors singing and dancing about how they want to leave this world in personalised style.

Right from the opening frame there is an infectious toe-tapping energy, thanks to the elderly folk who are clearly having an absolute ball making this. The oldest dancer is 94yrs old. If you enjoyed Kiwi feature documentary Hip Hop-eration, you’ll love this.

With stylised framing (nice work, cinematographer Mark Lapwood) it pops with colourful art direction, sequins and slick dance numbers. And thanks to lyricists Briar, Nick Ward and producer Kim Harrop I can’t get it the song out of my head.

I’ve never wanted a pricey funeral with a fancy-pants coffin, and it looks like I’ve found the place to make my own.