Curate Your Own Personal Film Festival (from the Library DVD Collection)

The Press reporter Charlie Gates wrote a fascinating article about the decline in DVD rental stores in Christchurch: Ghosts and survivors in fading DVD market. There may be fewer places to hire DVDs from, but you can still get ’em at your local library!

Because I am decidedly average at getting to the movies, the library DVD collection is there to rectify my movie fails. I watched The Last Jedi recently, re-watched the beautiful Japanese animated time-travel body swap movie Your Name, and am looking forward to watching Lady Bird and Phantom Thread.

DVDs - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
DVDs at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre. Flickr Sumner-2017-08-18-DSC03137

This led me to make my own list of an imaginary Film Fest of recent(ish) NZ docos!

New Zealand Docos

No Ordinary Sheila

The story of this writer, illustrator, natural historian and outdoors adventurer Sheila Natusch.


“Every weekend come rain, hail or shine, this diverse group of amateur performers unite to terrify punters at the southern hemisphere’s largest scream park, situated in a former psychiatric hospital. Director Florian Habicht reveals the transformative and paradoxically lifesaving power of belonging to a community that celebrates fear. “

Poi E

“With humour, energy and emotion, the movie Poi e is the story of how that iconic song gave pride to generations of New Zealanders.”

My Year With Helen

“With unique access to high-ranking candidate Helen Clark, award-winning filmmaker Gaylene Preston casts a wry eye on proceedings as the United Nations turns itself inside-out choosing a new Secretary-General.”


The story of Formula One motor racing team originator Bruce McLaren “A fearless racing driver, a visionary and brilliant engineer”.

Pecking Order

“Join members of the Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club in the lead up to the NZ National Championships, as they battle history and each other in a quest for glory and for the love of their birds.”

Seven Rivers Walking

“With walkers, rafters, farmers and fishing folk, we journey the alpine to spring rivers of Canterbury. Exploring above and below the surfaces, uncovering ways through our current freshwater crisis. This lyrical documentary from New Zealand is an intimate portrait of the struggles around water – globally the most precious resource of our time. ”


“After stumbling upon a bizarre “competitive endurance tickling” video online, wherein young men are paid to be tied up and tickled, reporter David Farrier reaches out to request a story from the company. “

The Art of Recovery

“As demolition gangs reduce ruins to rubble, a dynamic group of artists, innovators and entrepreneurs are bringing life back to the streets of post-quake Christchurch, empowering the people and creating a promising future for a dynamic new city. ”

Hip Hop-eration

“These Hip-hoppers may each be almost a century young, but for Kara (94), Maynie (95) and Terri (93), the journey to the Las Vegas World Hip Hop Dance Championships is just the beginning of a life’s journey. ”

Find New Zealand documentary films in our collection.


I do love a BBC costume drama!

CoverI became so attached to the cast of this superior drama that I was rather forlorn to give it back to the library!  Cranford and its stellar cast made me laugh, cry and smile – what more can be asked of entertainment?

With its delightful view of a bygone age and gentle comedy this series, spearheaded by its bonnet-clad spinsterhood, was a hit in Great Britain and collected a number of awards.

Set in the early 1840s in the fictional English village of Cranford. the story is based on novelist Elizabeth Gaskell works. It focuses on the town’s single and widowed middle class female inhabitants who are comfortable with their traditions and aim to maintain propriety at all times in the face of change.

I could not recommend it more and look forward to the library receiving Return to Cranford soon!

Find our more about the DVD collection and other library collections

Sick of mainstream movies?

FilmI confess a soft spot for foreign movies and do not mind subtitles. My friends do not share this love. Who wants to come home at the end of the work day to ‘read the TV or movie screen’ they protest?  I say it is worth exploring foreign language films as they offer another perspective from mainstream films.

Luckily the library has a huge variety of feature films – including many from as far away as Korea, Japan, France and Spain.  I watched Mongol last night. A Russian film about the early life of Genghis Khan. A bit of a bloodthirsty romp, but more enjoyable than watching mindnumbing sitcoms!

So this year come into your local community library to browse through the DVD collection.
Alternatively, explore this collection online by  searching Feature Films. That way you get a list of feature films divided by country.

Find our more about the DVD collection and other library collections

Happy viewing!

To DVD or not to DVD?

For those cold nights when you’re snuggled up on the couch and in the mood for dvds, largely because you’re knitting and you haven’t worked out how to knit and read at the same time, what you need is a good movie.

Thankfully the library not only keeps me well stocked in reading material, it also keeps me well stocked with DVDs. I’ve had a couple of really good dvds out recently.  Bottle Shock with the lovely Alan Rickman playing a British wine connoisseur in France who decides to do a blind taste testing with French wines up against Californian wines – with surprising results and is based on a true story no less.

Another gem I  stumbled on A common thread , is about a 17 year old who discovers she’s pregnant and goes to work for an embroiderer for haute couture designers.   The diving bell and the butterfly  is about former Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, which shows the aftermath of a debilitating stroke through his eyes.  In both movies, action takes second place to narrative and could be described as bleak, but both are stunning movies in terms of cinematography and heart. 

Here are some tips if you’re trying to find something to watch on the catalogue and don’t want to look through all 5599 listings on the catalogue:

  • In ‘Search catalogue” – type in your favourite actor and click on author – limit material type to “dvds and videos”
  • If you have a favourite distributor ie Hopscotch and Madman films distribute largely independent films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and The Wrestler and docos such as Microcosmos – in “Search catalogue” type in Hopscotch and limit material type to “dvds and videos”

Otherwise if you’ve seen something that takes your fancy on the Bestseller dvds – if you have the patience you can always see if there is a lending copy that you can place a hold on.  The only thing with this is that you may have to wait months for it to come in and it will cost you $3- 4 for the week ($2 for reserve charge plus the AV rental) so $5 for the week for a Bestseller movie doesn’t seem so bad.