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Film Festival 09 - The Town Which Lost A Miracle

The Town That Lost a Miracle/Autumn Fires

New Zealand 1972/1977, 83m
Director: Barry Barclay

The Town That Lost a Miracle. Opononi became the focus of national attention in 1955 thanks to a famously friendly dolphin. Seventeen years later, working with writer James McNeish, Barry Barclay visits Opononi and gently but tellingly probes the legend of that magical summer and the mystery of its violent end.

Autumn Fires. Actor Martyn Sanderson returns at 39 to the Hokianga of his youth and visits his elderly and romantic aunt, Olive Bracey. Their reminsicences mesh with nostalgic songs - "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life!" - and readings from Bracey's unpublished fiction. Rory O'Shea's lyrical cinematography lends its own poetry. This beautiful, layered film is all that came of a series to be called In Search of Pakehatanga proposed by Pacific Films after the success of Tangata Whenua. "It was metaphor created at a time when it was still possible to make metaphors in documentary in this country", Barclay recalled. But an era of more aggressive television was close at hand and he left the country soon after for nearly five years.