Hilda Brodie Smith, of Porirua, wrote, directed and starred in a number of rather incredible documentaries during the 1960s. Her work was so distinctive and professional that she regularly won prizes in cine club competitions.
Hilda’s films have recently been restored by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and film conservator Richard Faulkner talks about the process in this feature by Radio New Zealand.
By Virginia Callanan (Information Management Advisor, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
“Amateurs everywhere will be heartened by the vigour with which their colleagues can rise to the occasion and so zealously prepare the ground for a triumph of amateur movies” – Amateur Cine World, February 1954.
Amateur Cine World, the English film enthusiasts’ magazine, is well-represented in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Documentation Collection. Within these issues you find surprisingly frequent mention of New Zealand ciné clubs. One article from the February 1954 issue is titled “A Girdle Round the Earth,” a reference to Puck’s line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “I’ll put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes.”
To fly half way around the world in 1953 took just under 24 hours, and the Christchurch Movie Club enthusiasts made a film of it. This was the London to Christchurch International Air Race in which five planes competed in a speed section, and three in the commercial passenger section, celebrating 50 years of powered flight.
The resulting film showed not only the Christchurch landings, but also the London departures. This was achieved by:
“one of the most heartening examples to date of initiative and selfless teamwork among amateurs… which has extended across thousands of miles of ocean.” 
In London, with the support of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers, members agreed to set the scene and document the formal start of the race. This exposed film was then given to the crew onboard one of the Canberra aircraft entered in the speed section. The crew also had a ciné camera and filmed their journey from onboard. Continue reading →