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‘Cinema on wheels’ heads south

A travelling cinema showing off solid gold Kiwi film and TV classics is embarking on a tour of the South Island in a souped-up retro caravan.

Magic moments from screens big and small and a programme of classic New Zealand short films are coming to 19 towns as part of the REAL New Zealand Festival from September 9–October 23.

While the North Island part of the NZ on Screen project involves two giant container installations on the Wellington and Auckland waterfronts (for the duration of the Rugby World Cup), the mobile cinema is heading on a winter road trip to share our screen gems with the South. It is a collaboration between NZ On Screen, installation production company Storybox and Wellington design agency Chrometoaster.

The caravan will take the long way along the mainland starting in Picton, then spend the next four weeks touring around the South Island before spending two weeks camped at Christchurch's Hagley Park in the Rugby World Cup fan zone.

Stops along the way include Picton, Blenheim, Kaikoura, Rangiora, Ashburton, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, Wanaka, Queenstown, Gore, Invercargill, Hokitika, Greymouth, Westport, Arthurs Pass, Murchison, Nelson and Christchurch. Each stay will be for one to two days.

"We’re delighted to be able to take Kiwi icons like Billy T, Sir Ed, Peter Jackson and Cheryl West, on a massive road trip around the South Island, and bring southern screen heroes like John Britten and Burt Munro back to home turf," says NZ On Screen project director Brenda Leeuwenberg.

"There’s nothing better than the moving image to showcase Kiwi spirit to visitors coming to New Zealand, and to show what it means to be from this place we call New Zealand.”

The New Zealand Film Commission says local short films have enjoyed an extraordinarily high profile internationally in recent years.

The "cinema on wheels" boasts the full catalogue of the NZ On Screen website with more than 1500 titles and entry will be free.

Rob Appierdo of Storybox says: “The unusual nature of the design process has been a bit of a challenge but we're proud to have made what must be the smallest cinema in the country."

The caravan is an original 1971 Oxford, reconfigured by the very man who built it in the 1970s.

Alton Harison ran Oxford caravans in Levin for decades, at the peak making 35 caravans a week. He and his son now work hot-rodding caravans for enthusiasts.

The Harisons worked with the design team from Storybox, who are used to working with containers.

NZ On Screen editor Paul Ward also sees the project as a way of introducing people to the potential of online content, and in particular through the geo-tagging function on the website.

“All the content on NZ On Screen can now be geo-tagged by users using our ‘Places’ tab. If someone recognises a location in a title — their hometown or local park, beach, bar, marae or whatever—they can record it onsite. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be a part of making New Zealand screen history.”

Follow the journey online at real.nzonscreen.com.