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Film in the Pacific Rim: A Brief History



The Story of the Kelly Gang, the first Australian feature film, is released.


The oldest production company in Japan, Nikkatsu, launches as the Japan Cinematograph Company.


Night photography is used effectively in Japan in Ningenku (Human Suffering).


Frank Borzage’s Street Angel, a silent film played alongside music, is screened at the Paramount Theatre in Wellington.


Sound was gradually introduced into Japanese features. The new technology was opposed by the benshi; performers who would stand by the screen and narrate the action.


Canada’s National Film Board (NFB) launches.


The NFB production Churchill’s Island is both the first Canadian film and the first documentary to win an Academy Award.


The Australian National Film Board produces The Queen in Australia, the country’s first colour feature.


Shichinin no Samurai directed by Japan’s Kurosawa Akira

Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai)

Country: Japan

Director: Kurosawa Akira

Starring: Mifune Toshiro & Shimura Takashi

Kurosawa Akira’s Shichinin no Samurai tells the story of seven roaming samurai warriors who protect a village from bandits in the 16th century. Encyclopedia Britannica says it was the “longest and most expensive” Japanese film at the time of its release, and its worldwide critical success brought Kurosawa’s work to the global stage. Modern Japanese directors like Miyazaki Hayao follow in Kurosawa’s footsteps, telling epic folk tales like Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001).


Japan’s Mushi Productions animation studio is founded by Osamu Tezuka, a prominent manga artist.


During Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution China’s film industry was almost destroyed.


The Australian government successfully boosts the nation’s film industry; according to the Australian government, almost 400 movies were made between 1970 and 1985.


The Beijing Film Academy reopens after a hiatus of over ten years.


Mad Max is from Australia

Mad Max

Country: Australia

Director: George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson & Joanne Samuel

In Mad Max’s dystopian future, a cop seeks revenge on a biker gang for murdering his family. The film was part of the government subsidized “renaissance” during the 1970s. Mad Max reached cult classic status around the world, and was followed by Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior in 1981, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, and Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.


Chinese filmmaker Xie Jin directs Furong zhen (Hibiscus Town), one of several of his films that delve into the ramifications of the Cultural Revolution.


New Zealand actor Sam Neill plays Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park.


Huozhe (To Live) from China

Huozhe (To Live)

Country: China

Director: Zhang Yimou

Starring: Ge You & Gong Li

Huozhe chronicles a young family’s struggle to survive through the 1940s to the 1970s, exploring the effects of communism on family life. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, though the Chinese government barred Zhang from going to the ceremony.


Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) filmed in Canada

Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner)

Country: Canada

Director: Zacharias Kunuk

Starring: Natar Ungalaaq & Sylvia Ivalu

Atanarjuat recounts a millenia-old oral legend of a village disrupted by a curse. The evil son of the tribe leader takes revenge on the protagonist, Atanarjuat, after his betrothed marries Atanarjuat instead. It was the first feature to be acted, directed, and written by Inuit people. Atanarjuat was critically well-received all over the world, winning the Caméra d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.


The second installment of New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, uses motion capture technology to bring the character Gollum to life.


French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad of the same name, is nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.


Australian Director George Miller directs Mad Max: Fury Road, which wins six Academy Awards.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople from New Zealand

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Country: New Zealand

Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Julian Dennison & Sam Neill

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an offbeat comedy about a grizzled farmer and a teenaged Maori boy running from the law in the New Zealand bush. Based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the highest grossing New Zealand film in the country, according to the New Zealand Film Commission.

Sources: Australian Government, Australian National Film and Sound Archive, Canadian Encyclopedia, Canadian National Film Board, Encyclopedia Britannica, Government of Canada, Langara Library & Information Technology Students, New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand History

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