Free Theatre

Posted Sunday 02 Jul 2017

Free Theatre small

Shirley Horrocks is firmly in the driver's seat of this documentary, being the director, producer, writer and co-researcher - and, impressively, it's her 10th documentary to screen at the NZIFF.

Free Theatre
2017, 76 minutes, World Premiere

Founded by Peter Falkenberg in 1979, Christchurch's Free Theatre has provided a remarkably persistent alternative to the city's more vaunted legacy of traditional theatre. Favouring the event-based over the text-based, Falkenberg has steeped a succession of actors, writers and theatre technicians in the practice of an avant-garde theatre that has strong roots in his native Germany, while being constantly responsive to political and social change.

Free Theatre has often courted controversy and the film is studded with remembered provocations: audiences at a production of 1984 were separated from their friends and even forcibly evicted by costumed security guards.

Filmmaker Shirley Horrocks, who began shooting seven years ago when she first encountered Free Theatre's touring production Distraction Camp, is especially attentive to the shift in focus and a less combative - though no less satiric - imaginative engagement with community activation since the earthquakes.

At 37, Free Theatre has proven as definitive and resilient a Christchurch institution as the one Falkenberg set out to oppose, and richly deserving of Horrocks' documentary salute.

Next Up...

100 Men

Posted Sunday 02 Jul 2017

100 Men small

Vincent Burke is the producer behind 100 Men, a window onto four decades of gay history and an exploration of how it has affected personal lives.

100 Men
Director: Paul Oremland
2017, 94 minutes, World Premiere

100 Men fast-tracks through 40 years of gay history via a countdown of filmmaker Paul Oremland's most memorable shags. The significance of the 100 men varies, but all have lingered in Paul's mind for some small or, ahem, big reason. Most of the men feature only as a descriptive nickname; some appear on camera. Although the film does ask whether gay men are too fixated on sex, Paul is more interested in these men's lives, emphasising the collective experience of the isolation of growing up gay.

Paul recounts how a religious upbringing in New Zealand fuelled an inner struggle and how his first heartbreak led to a move to the UK. It's there that he met John, the love of his life. Their on/off-again romance gets major screen time, with Paul unpicking their decision to eschew monogamy for an open relationship. The polyamorous life is a major talking point of the film. In the days before gay marriage seemed even remotely possible, the rejection of monogamy was a defining feature of gay culture, and the film explores the effects it had on men's lives.

This thoughtful film looks forward as much as it does back, leaving us to ponder the intricacies of gay identity today. - Chris Tse