Have you ever been to New Zealand? It is a small country in the South Pacific with about the same population as Ireland and yet it has a movie industry which produces such great names as Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, King Kong and The Hobbit), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Merlin, Omen III) and Anna Paquin (True Blood, Fly Away Home).

Top 5 New Zealand movies

Here are the five top New Zealand movies in my humble opinion.

Utu

(Screened at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival)

In 1983, Utu was said to have the largest budget for any NZ movie. It is a story set in the days of British colonization to New Zealand and the relationship they had with the NZ native people (the Maoris).

Geoff Murphy also made a handful of other iconic New Zealand films such as Goodbye Pork Pie and The Quiet Earth.

Bad Taste

(Probably not screened at any awards event ever!)

In 1987, the now legendary Peter Jackson was just starting his film career. He made this movie on weekends playing two roles himself and enlisting his friends and coworkers for the other roles. It was filmed mostly at his house. The bulk of the movie was made for under $NZ 25,000. Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Braindead are the three movies that started PJ’s career and they are all low-budget horror movies. But they are the best low-budget horror movies ever made!

Peter Jackson took a serious note next with Heavenly creatures (starring Kate Winslet) and then The Frighteners (starring Michael J. Fox) before moving onto the Rings/Kong fame.

Once were warriors

Once Were Warriors was a hard movie to watch about family issues which included alcoholism, poverty, rape and domestic violence. It was a very popular movie starring Temuera Morrison who went on to Hollywood fame (Speed 2, Star Wars 4, Barb Wire, The Island of Doctor Moreau). It was popular due to its hard-hitting portrayal of the life of an urban Maori family.

The Piano (1993-Won the Palme d’Or at Cannes) and Whale Rider (2003-Debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival) are probably the most widely-circulated and critically-acclaimed New Zealand movies and are both well worth a watch.

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