Loading Docs 2015

This month’s Screening room comes from broadcaster, television producer and writer Tim Lambourne. He checks out a few of this year’s batch from Loading Docs– a unique launchpad for three-minute local docos, helping nurture and promote Kiwi filmmaking talent. You can check out more at loadingdocs.net.

I often find myself engaging in a particularly self-destructive mode of Internet browsing that I have termed ‘hate-watching’. I read or watch or listen to things that aren’t very good and then get angry that the care and attention and thought that should go into creating something worthy of sharing hasn’t been applied.

Thankfully, watching these three short documentaries was the exact opposite experience. It was inspiring and uplifting and reminded me that even though we (and by we I mean the Internet) have created a world that proliferates shorter and shorter content, that quality, thought and care can still be the modus operandi if we want it to be.

The following three Loading Docs documentaries highlight people who are bringing that care, enthusiasm and passion to their own world of wonder. Be it wine, dancing or whatever you call the stupendous inventions in Fantasy Cave.


Fantasy Cave

A couple of years ago I was traveling through South East Asia and Hong Kong. By chance a friend of a friend reached out to say he would be in HK around the same time. When we met up for a beer we hugged. It caught me by surprise, how good it felt to catch up with a dude I didn’t know that well.

Knowing that my uniquely Kiwi eccentricities would be not only understood but also enjoyed and reciprocated by my ‘mate of a mate’ over the next few weeks was incredibly comforting.

I felt a similar feeling watching Fantasy Cave, a short documentary about a group of elderly folk who are self-proclaimed ‘builders and tinkerers’ that share their creations with their community. Watching this doco away from the homeland, in a very foreign environment and culture, I found myself instantly connecting with the tone.

There is a beautiful little moment during a meeting of Fantasy Cave’s protagonists where they are discussing the recent spate of ‘lights being left on’ overnight that brought a particularly warm smile to my face.



There’s a heartbreaking quality to Hiro Kusuda, a Japanese winemaker who battles the harsh New Zealand elements to create wine he can be proud of.

Co-directors Henry Oliver and Amber Easby focus on aspects of Hiro’s inherent Japanese-ness: his quest for quality and perfection, his understanding of the fragility of life. Their ability to connect how well that translates to the life of a grape grower felt effortless and also beautiful.

Hiro is thoughtful and considered, but it’s clear he battles not just the weather but also himself. Even after a successful harvest, he still dreams of the work that needs to be done.


Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark follows Peter Vosper, who finds himself most when he isn’t himself, but rather a cataclysm of Neon and LED lights. He becomes his own Daft Punk-looking creation that he uses to entertain strangers on Auckland’s streets with his impressive lights and and dance moves.

Vosper’s lights and moves also bring him into a community of like-minded people who regularly gather to dance in the dark at No Lights No Lycra events. The transformation they undergo is captured beautifully by director Rowena Baines. Like the subjects of Fantasy Cave, Vosper is a DOP’s dream. And just like with Fantasy Cave, I was not disappointed.


Whether you’re watching these short documentaries in a random dive bar in the middle of middle America, or one hundred metres from the Fantasy Cave, these stories remind us that we aren’t that different. They remind us that, if we want to be, we are endlessly connected.