Emma Jean Kelly - remembering Jonathan Dennis

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in zero.com. What drew you to research Jonathan, Tina's [00:00:08] a huge amount of things sort of came together at the same time. So I'd worked at the New Zealand Herald as an image activist. And I've been looking at the collection and the basement of those beautiful out glass pipe negatives. And lots of them were of Maori people, and they had milk on dressed in traditional costumes. And I thought, who are these people? None of them are catalogued. There's no information about them. Do I know if they addressed in the traditional actual, you know, outfits of the day? Are they dressed for the camera? I know nothing. So I started asking my boss, you know, who are these people? And should we be doing something with these images? And can we digitize them and share them? [00:00:49] And she said, if they know we have them, they'll want them back. And I hope she talking about just about tribes of tribes knew those images were at the Herald had want the bank. And so we weren't going to do anything with them, which I found really disappointing. And so I started taking myself up to a duty to the turtle Marty classes that [00:01:15] that Jason, King and balanced mess, we're running at Tata Potala, because I thought at least if I got a little bit of language, I might get a little bit more understanding. And the hero actually allowed me to take time off an evening because I was on night shift to do that, which was pretty cool. And I just started thinking about this world that was seemed quite parallel to my parkour world. And I wanted to know, had anybody else been thinking about this and archiving circles because I wasn't a trained activist, I was just someone who's fallen into it for my masters and Media Studies. [00:01:53] So that was, that was the beginning. [00:01:58] And then nothing happened for a while because I've been off Australia and did other things. But then I read Barry Barclays but monitor today. [00:02:05] And his chapter, so in the year where he talks about the New Zealand Film Archive, and the notion of cut Jackie, and the notion of monetary to do and what it means. And I mentioned this, Jonathan Dina's, and I quite literally walked off to the library to find the book on Jonathan dinners. And it wasn't on the shelf. And we're only shown who knew very badly. He was I think she was mentioned in the book, and berries book, she said, Go ask Roger. [00:02:36] And Roger heart. See, that's a great topic for a PhD. And it was it off, I went bad. The other bit of that was that [00:02:48] when I did start reading about him and thinking about him, I thought, Oh, this is a gay man, he was out. And my dad was a guy, man who hadn't been out. And I thought, how many narratives are there of outcomes, I mean, running institutions and New Zealand, I'd actually don't think there are that many of them. This guy seemed passionate and fun and out and colorful, and guy in the most lovely way. And I wanted to find out a bit more about him. So that was the other side of it coming into play. And that's cause tension between the sort of queer angle that I've taken, particularly with queer theory, and sort of more traditional view of [00:03:29] what it was he was doing. And particularly in relation to Marty Tanner and things sometimes people haven't always been comfortable that I've been trying to bring those two elements together. [00:03:42] So it's delving into Jonathan, so to speak, and yet, tell me about him. What, you know, what, what was he like, what, what did you find? [00:03:53] Well, and the ultimatum, but I listened to interviews he done and I watched videos of him, I read everything I could find about him. And he was same same pain, extremely opinionated. He was black and white about thanks, he loved his seem to love things or hate them. And he said, so it's a little bit unusual for New Zealand mean at a particular time, I think. [00:04:21] People always described and I talked to them, his clothes, his bright Hawaiian shirts, and maybe Chica trousers that didn't really match the Hawaiian shirt, but it became part of the look, you know, Lindsay Shelton talked about being an adult with him. They're walking along the street, I think, in Milan. And Jonathan was in this typical brightly colored outfit and these beautiful suited Italian mean, we're walking towards them and align and sort of pass it like the read see when they saw Jonathan because I sort of didn't really know how to respond or react him. [00:04:56] He will he was very tall. People often talked about his height. And the fact that he was really fun, and people who were friends with him so that he was just a person who loved love film. That was his focus. That was his focus more than anything else. He loved film, but he loved sharing the delights of film and sharing that world with people and he found ways to connect with people through through his love of film. [00:05:28] Yeah, and his sister said he was he was always a collector of small things, which I thought was a lovely comment. He he was was filling his pockets with stones or toys, or, you know, he tells one story about living because he grew up loving and grant hotels because his father was a general manager. He opened up everything cornflake packet in the cupboard for the gifts to pull out the little plastic toy and side and he gotten a lot of trouble for that. But he was always after the gym, the beautiful thing and the bright colored thing. Make pie I think, [00:06:01] especially as in what resonates with people after somebody passed. Yeah, what the words they use to describe somebody. So you know, whether it's the height or the the main place. [00:06:12] Yeah, yeah. Elizabeth Valley, saying he flew on it flew on an on his own personal rainbow. I really liked that. That notion that he was just quite different from everybody else. He seemed to come from nowhere. And here he was fully formed doing his thing. [00:06:27] So how does that fit into New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s? [00:06:32] Wow. I asked a lot of people about that. And he didn't fit in, you know, he said he what he described himself as he said, I wasn't Boise, which even Boise as a kind of unusual term. He wasn't like the other boys. Tim has brother seed, while he himself was outside and, and particularly around Mount Cook. When I lived at the Hermitage. He was learning how to build things, what has made who worked the air and he was shooting rabbits in front of the guests windows when they were eating in the dining room. Jonathan was inside. He was inside. He had goals. He had toys, the women and the house legitimate, adored him and flopped around him and he had read them around his finger and a lot of people talked about it. Jonathan could read me around his finger. He could do whatever he liked. [00:07:26] So we're would like so gay or homosexual or queer used in his family? [00:07:34] Does his family know about her sexual identity like from a young age, [00:07:39] his family did know that words whenever used this according to his family. So one of the stories tend tells us that role living [00:07:51] would have been would have probably been essential terrorists and Willington by the end, I think. And in the morning, Lori, the father would come around and bring a cup of tea to everybody. Well, that was still in bead. And sometimes you know, Jonathan, when he was boyfriend and buried with him, and it was just Good morning, and he is your cup of tea. There was never any question angle, outrageousness. And you know, Jonathan later told stories of having two boyfriends at the same time and they were staying in the big water be that think it would seem to tear so family always knew he was he was just Jonathan he was the way he was. But no, definitely not the word queer. And, you know, [00:08:26] as we know, in his 50s, 60s time that we're queer was a real insult for people. But even now that those of us generation often don't seem to use the word queer so much. But as his family, [00:08:40] his family as far as his siblings, I can soon say that [00:08:46] his parents were very open minded people. They just took everything as it came, and they were intelligent and interested in the world. But the same time Jonathan says he went through a period of being absolutely enraged by them, he treated them very badly. And it seems to be all tied with him being sent to boarding school. And Tim had already gone to boarding school in Christchurch, and he really thrived. [00:09:11] But Jonathan got the couple of years later, and he wasn't like the other boys and lot of them were their sons of Canterbury farmers and cricket was on the menu and [00:09:21] being at sea being in any way, different from a sort of quite a conformist, standardized, normalized version of masculinity wasn't particularly acceptable. [00:09:34] So interviewed, his friend who went to school at the same time, who said that there was a heck of a lot of bullying, that Jonathan somehow seem to rise above that, he said, but Jonathan himself said, I made myself transparent, so that they wouldn't get to me I made myself invisible. [00:09:51] So, the same time as other people saw him as flamboyant, and colorful, at least as a child, there were times where he knew he had to hide himself away, to survive. And he was very angry with his parents were sending him into that environment for a long, long time. [00:10:09] And do you think is that where the kind of love of film came in was that he could actually go and hide? or hide himself away in a cinema? [00:10:18] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so he'd sign himself out of school innovate code. And he'd say he was going to sister Simon, who is living in Christchurch at the time, but actually, he was going around the corner to the local theater, and the local theaters at that time. Other people have described and Jonathan, as well as talked about the fact that they had these crazy repertory screenings. I didn't know how to say that we're probably actually but I'm of whatever they could get the hands on. So they hit classic cinema and silence and run wisdoms and everything, and he left it all up. And so in the archive, there are wonderful postcards and letters to his parents, who were in various places at that time saying, I seen this film moment it was 262 meters or however long it was like he always wrote down how long the film wasn't. Been and feet and those days when that, and this is what happened in this film, and I really loved it. And it was a way for him to escape. And in later years, when Peter wells his screen drove a long loop home and some of his name was Jonathan read them and in pager and he talked about pieces notion of escape into those films. And Jonathan fell very similarly paste the seed, and Jonathan users, and I think it's the centenary of cinema, wonderful quote from, I think, Janet frame story, where a mother and peps her daughter go off to the cinema. And this is the magical time and he really felt that that was his magical time. And as patients as you could imagine, you were the hero and being kissed by the hero at the end of the film, it was a very sort of ambidextrous sexual reality and your imagination could could fly free. [00:12:03] So it was was Jonathan, like a weird of his sexuality, like when he was at boarding school? [00:12:10] What a great question. I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. And I never read anything. And no one ever said to me, what has experienced in adolescence was in terms of his understanding of his own sexuality. I don't remember him, saying he had one moment where he thought are this is who I am. But the story he does tell is at 16 writing to the now What did they call themselves, there was a sort of homosexual Law Reform league. I their time, and they were very proper. And they want lots of them were lawyers and things and I wanted to change the law. And he wrote and said, I want to be part of your your growth. I'm, I'm only 16. But I think this is very important. But interestingly enough, he never seen so when he did his interviews, but when you read the letter, it says, I am not a homosexual. But I think this is really important. And, and he tells the story of how the Secretary was very concerned that this would be misconstrued. Have a 16 year old turned up at the meetings. So he said, You can only come with a chaperone. And so Jonathan stead, Lori came with him to the meetings. So he went to the meetings, and he talked and listened and, and understood about homosexual or form, but it's interesting in that first leader, he said, I am not a homosexual, but but it was only 16. What he was [00:13:37] where he was born in 53. So do the math mean, [00:13:42] they at least areas is in his papers in the archive, and it's it's, it's lovely. And I think it shows a generosity of spirit in an intelligence and thinking outside the box there. A lot of 16 year old boys, you know, whatever their sexual orientation, they were just not not be there at 16. You know, [00:14:04] so this will be 1968 69 [00:14:07] elder. When you think that 1969 and San Francisco, that's a very different thing than 1969 and New Zealand, and Roger heart. So many people have said that we didn't have our 60s to the 70s. You know, what it was it was a conservative place, and you would judge very harshly. [00:14:24] And how even would you know, as a 16 year old that this kind of society existed? [00:14:29] Indeed, indeed. I The reason I haven't seen anything, I hope it turns out where he talks about are you know, I heard this on the radio, I read this piece of news or my father Lori gave me an article that he'd seen my mother talked about it or I have no idea [00:14:45] within other members of the Tina's family that we're clear that he couldn't, you know, that he had the foresight to [00:14:55] know that I know of, but a family member who was a broad minded fella, who Jonathan talked about having influence on him was his ankle. So his uncle, who was the crush librarian, Ryan O'Reilly, and Johnson would also escaped to see RON and RON had, you know, these McCann paintings on his walls and, and the one of Jonathan's cousins, right shoulder me Bez Jonathan's Mata I going with her father, because these paintings were obscene, and how could you have them in the house. And Jonathan remembers those arguments because he'd grown up in hotels with beautiful landscape paintings, you know, there was nothing like these these works on the walls, these monitors works. And so this uncle was different. And he was very into films, he was part of the film society. And you know, that the film society that time and prior to that had been regarded as a place for pivots and radicals. It's a quote from [00:16:00] my thesis, I can't remember how it's a quiet from but that was, you know, that was the place the perverts and the radicals when because they were able to bring in films into the country that no one else could say. And I've talked to quite a few people about this, that site kind of tangential to the thesis I thought was really interesting how many gave me and I know all the gaming went to the Film Fest of the film festivals in the film society, the Film Society was the beginning of it. And they saw these films that showed them other worlds. I think that was really important. It was important to Jonathan was opponent around. So I run a rally the ankle. He's quoted and make some lovers, which is by Chris. Record. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, thank you. And so Ron's coated in there, because he's tall, he's writing to toss Wollaston or one of his mates. And he's saying, you know, really, we're all homosexual, as part of who we are. And it's kind of a quite a modern thing to say for I think it was Lisa, written in the 50s, or something, you know, they've been talking about what mean to them in what it means to have a sexual identity. Why they were even issues or problems was being homosexual or heterosexual. So this was the guy who was, who was an open minded file. I mean, he'd been married, he had two kids. I'm not saying what his sexuality was, but I'm saying I think he was an intelligent person who was accepting of who people were in the world. So how do [00:17:24] you think Jonathan would label himself [00:17:28] I [00:17:29] believe he used the term gay. [00:17:32] But other people have said to me, you know, during the time, homosexual or form and the edge stations in the matches, he means on some of the matches, but some people have said, you know, he wasn't standing up there beating the drum being an activist on the front line, he wasn't doing that kind of work. And I don't know if they see that because they felt it wasn't doing enough work, although just making an observation. [00:17:56] Malcolm McKinnon, his friend says that they had a drink the night the homosexual, Laura for went through when that one of the clubs that they were into. [00:18:06] But I mean, I think he would have probably said he was gay if he was asked, but I really think he didn't see his sexuality, where he said, I was never an issue in my occupation, it was never an issue for me. But other people have said that they knew it was so you know, a little bit the Elysee is that when she first wanted him, you know, flying in on his colored rainbow to do work at national radio, and all concert as I think she was originally programming for concept. Her manager see has voices to camp. She said, Don't touch it. If you try and get him to do voice modification or anything like that, he'll run away. There's nothing wrong with his voice. So she had to buffer him and protect him for and she clearly never told him that he was his voice wasn't appropriate for audio at that time, according to the managers. So what's that early 90s? I mean, far out? It seems outrageous to me. And I think they were champions through his life, who probably buffered him in the way that Elizabeth did, from bureaucracies because he didn't love them any team to just tell people what he thought which didn't do his career any good. [00:19:18] So sometimes you might have been a little bit of blood as to what was going on for him, you know, he was they adored, younger child. He was, I think he saw, he saw love and collegiality and friendship, wherever he went. I think even though he, in later years, he got cynical. He didn't see the positive side of things. He did say what he wanted to see in the world. And he, you know, he thought that he knew that there was nothing wrong with being gay. So he assumed everybody else saw that. This was that. [00:19:52] But some fascinating to hear about that kind of, I mean, I'd call it kind of hidden homophobia. You know, [00:20:00] 1990s. I mean, that's not that long ago. [00:20:02] That's right. It's it's very recent. [00:20:06] But you know, that really made me think when she told me that. [00:20:12] And then I thought about the voices I knew from national radio and constantly film, particularly there a male voices over a long time. And they were kind of [00:20:22] they were kind of standardized, deep, kind of Knock, knock Kiwi bloke more refined than Kiwi bloke batch. [00:20:31] And then it makes you think, Well, what do you think a gay voices or a straight voices? or How did they either, you know, why did they think that voice was camp as opposed to another voice? What is camp me? [00:20:43] And what I mean, gosh, you know, if you look one of those voices on the radio, what would happen? [00:20:47] What will happen next? That's right. That's right. But you know, his, his radio shows were incredibly popular. They want awards. I mean, you know, you worked on some of them. [00:21:01] And people laughed, people love them in his voice was distinctive. And it was, you know, [00:21:08] he said colorful things. He said passionate things. And part of it was was the bullet actually a really beautiful speaking voice, lovely voice to hear and listen to, [00:21:20] because he had done quite a lot of acting and stuff and 77. [00:21:23] That's right. So and as soon as he got involved in a mom of theatre company, and they had some pretty well known people and hit enter Campion and pull Maunder and even Sam Neill, which is very exciting, and in England, and Denise Warner, who is now Denise, she's changed tonight. [00:21:44] And they did, they began to do plays about what they consider the New Zealand condition. They did pies about globally, you know, and not the sort of average celebrate very nationalistic, jingoistic stuff, it was more about, really how it was how genuinely was for people. So he was doing that for a long time. He's also done some radio in the 70s. Really IDs for one seed be I think, [00:22:15] theory Hendrix talks about Jonathan going off on Sunday morning to do early morning, live radio, you know, [00:22:23] doing a Star Wars reviews and things like that. And you can imagine when you thought about Star Wars, he didn't like it very much. [00:22:31] And so you see, he had he did have experienced any any had a confidence about it. He said, he said, You know, he could really feel like he was in those in the zone on on stage and, and he used all those skills later on when he became a public figure. And he talked about that mask that he would put on. So he could do that on the director of the archive and do those public talks that he did. Because, interestingly enough, despite everything else I've seen, I would say he's in that he was an introvert. And he needed to be able to choose the people he was around in order to feel really genuinely comfortable. Otherwise, he had to put on the performance space in order to cope with things and I think you probably found the public side of things tiring. [00:23:16] But they were necessary to what he wanted to achieve. [00:23:20] And [00:23:21] what does he want to achieve? [00:23:23] world domination and probably [00:23:28] for everybody to understand the amazing this of the films that he thought were beautiful and wonderful. And he you know, he thought silent film was the beast film. And this was quite a purist [00:23:41] Roger Horrocks calls, calls someone like Jonathan a son is also an Eastern never quite sure how to pronounce that ci in a is taken to Ian is an acute some with [00:23:54] pure film lover. And so you know, he was encouraging the film festival and working with a film festival to bring in the classics of silence cinema, play them with the orchestra, and it still goes on today with a film festival, he would have to get the best print. And if it wasn't the brightest print, he will have to get another presentation of the film festival had to pay twice for it, which focused wouldn't like very much a fair enough. But he wanted people to really understand how what masterpieces these films were. And he was deeply frustrated when people didn't. [00:24:30] And I think that's, that's why for him going to LA to report on a film festival as long as many times as they could was very important to him, because there were people there who he felt really understood the power of silence cinema. And a way that he often felt New Zealanders didn't. But then I think you probably had that thing about feeling like everyone was a Philistine. And he and he knew a lot more and it made it feel good to you know, so he was frustrated by people. But at the same time, it gave him a sense of status, I think, to be the person who really understood how incredible these films were. [00:25:03] But it's interesting that you were saying that he did a lot of public speaking. And I guess my experience of him was that he was always incredibly generous with his, his knowledge. So he wouldn't hold on to what he would want to you to understand and would take the time to explain it. [00:25:23] Anyway, it's a super good point that he, if he was asked to speak, or if there was an opportunity, he would, he would take it any was generous. So there are neat papers in the archive, that I didn't really get to do anything with you that I'd love someone to do something with whichever notes from lectures he gave all over the country. So he was asked to speak at film festivals or he was asked to speak at the film and television school here in Wellington or I come up to Victoria uni and speak to the history classes about the history of film and New Zealand or he go to a matter I can speak about Marty films and the collection. And so you know, they did this, he did this on a real shoestring there wasn't a lot of money for it. But he will do it because he thought it was important to do and you're right, he shared his knowledge. He wasn't someone who thought information was power. And I think that probably made him hand for bureaucrats don't really know how to deal with because he wasn't. This wasn't about getting himself to the top of the hierarchy in any traditional way. This was about his patient fulfillment, sharing it with everyone. And all sorts of ways. So yeah, you're right, he was, he was generous. And if people came to him and said, You know, I'm really interested in this film from blah, blah, he come and help them with it. So I've spoken to people who are scholars at Victoria, and I say, I remember Jonathan helping me when I went into the archive he came in, and he always he has a new piece of information for me, and he'd always share it with me. And that was how he This was how he tried to run the archive is an open place as a place where anyone could come you didn't have to be a scholar, he didn't have to be as he said archive letter he, he he he taped archive to you if he could, you know, bundle up the huge big old film projector in the bloody car and drive it out to them and love know, we had to show on a mat I which was at that time being done up. So there's like sheets of plastic everywhere and check it was running around. But that's how you get people to see the toner. So that's how you do it. [00:27:28] So it's not just good enough to kind of preserve the films, but actually to make them accessible from healthy. [00:27:37] Yeah. And it's really hard. I can see how archives, [00:27:42] excuse me can get focused on preservation and get so worried about you know, sharing this stuff. But it comes back to it sort of them. That Film Archive argument that gets sent it around Ernest lingering at the FBI and honoree language at the cinema teak from size, you know, owner, he was always showing everything all the time, even if he only had one print. And Ernest was saying if we don't hit a preservation print, we can share it, which was hugely frustrating for people. And Jonathan trap, you know, he knew how other people had approached these things. And it was the great advantage of Staten the icon later. And actually one we a lot of the big archives that Saturn 30s and 40s was he could take what he thought was based from all the different types of approaches. And he definitely saw that presentation was enormously important. And I think he knew and maybe I just say this because I've done research myself, and I want to believe it. But I think he knew that researchers and people from the outside brought so much to the archive because they had expert knowledge. And he certainly knew he learned that modern people had expert knowledge about the films that they were looking at. So it made me think you know, those glass pipe negatives that Harold, I was like, how many years ago? If I've been able to say, here, all these images, what do you know about them? Boy, that could have been interesting. We could have been sharing the images, we could have been thinking about them differently and talking about them differently could could change your whole institution to start opening out on those waves. [00:29:19] So we'll have those negatives now. [00:29:22] Sorry, I know they still in the basement of the Herald [00:29:25] here so so I got a I got a small budget, a great job after a while to [00:29:32] to scan some of them. And there was a wonderful image handler at the Herald called Andrew Robertson who was interested in history. And he'd helped me use the big old scanner in the Mac. So I'm no good with Max only use PCs. And we would scan these things. And we would do some research and try and figure out what it was we were looking at. So some of them are scanned, but most of them are just sitting, you know, just sitting in the basement [00:29:56] here would acquire them. [00:29:58] Well, the Herald status [00:30:01] in the late 1800s. So they were taking photos around the country. From the time where there were there was that kind of equipment available to take photos. So they were their own collection, originally owned by Wilson and Horton I think was the company that I'm Harold. And there were a civic minded bunch at that time. And they they have talked was going around the country taking photos, they had a lot of amazing photos of Auckland being built. [00:30:30] And the and they developed a relationship with the Oakland Museum. So they were sharing with the museum the images they had, they were starting to do exhibitions together. But then the Herald was sold to Tony O'Reilly and it changed changed a lot. So I think half the collection is at the Brooklyn Museum now. But the rest is still heroes because that relationship stopped. [00:30:53] So Johnson's bicultural doesn't have a [00:30:55] bit. Do you don't have it begin? [00:30:58] When they said he never went on Mariah until the late 70s. And he didn't say what Mariah that was in the late 70s. But really, for me, from what I can understand retainer Harris happened to me, you know, and they had found out through American colleagues and Audrey cook for books Talk to me a little bit about this, that they seem to be a copy of the devil's pet floating around in the States. I think it clicked ahead. And it's also to Cortana, Tatiana, and Southern Cross. And so that was an early film shot and New Zealand by for Universal Pictures. And he had heard that they might be this film, they might be able to negotiate and get it and then day the Newseum Film Archive was able to get that film. And that that someone had told him the star princess meet all might still be alive. And so he was calling around, you know, trying to find the star because that's what he did if he could, if lovely English was in town, even if she was sitting on a cruise ship and didn't want to come on, but he was going to interview here. So he did. And that's pretty impressive. He sought out the people he thought was significant. And for him, the devil's pet was a significant New Zealand film. And so the star of it was a significant person just the same way that Lillian guess was. And yeah, I called up with trainer and I hit there was a bit of confusion about the name of the film was at the same film. And finally, they agreed it was and they meet and about it chose so you can see his diaries and the archive and meeting with with Aaron Harris. And he said from the they they just started this extraordinary friendship, it was very close very quickly. And she began to talk to him about things. So her daughter in law barrel says that they'd sit together at the rotor or co to we're, we're, we're turning left and we're telling you know what, teach them songs, Melody songs and help him think about how it he would do an introduction and Toto Mallory. And [00:33:04] there were other modern people involved in helping him with a staff but I think he was to completely comfortable with with her in his his guide. And she, she loved him. And he loved her and they just loved working together. And there's some lovely handwritten notes of one of his speeches, I think she gave it pulled an oni about what the film piece of what the Film Archive has done, and why in relation to the mall the world. And she felt very confident that what they were doing was extremely important. And she was the chat she was going to champion. And, and, and he was very happy to have that relationship [00:33:45] which I think was exploited. So if I think I like both genuinely adored each other and wanting to work together, and they found it to be loads of fun. [00:33:54] In so it was through her that his entry into the that that's kind of parallel? Well, [00:34:01] yeah, it's a piece of pain. And he describes the Mahdi, not the mighty The road to a fist of apps, I think they call it that happened. And I think it for so. And how we're telling a head cold around and told people the Film Archive is bringing out these films from our region. And instead I had a private screening at someone's home with just the old people that quit and co hosts it I'll play that again play that again, I hit these different fragments from noted or and they started recognizing and sisters and various people in the images. And then he sees when they had the big screening. The word gone round, we've got these photos, we've got these images of your region and heaps of people came and it was hugely popular. And the learning for him was [00:34:49] through Wittering opening out that world by introducing him to the influential people lean, everybody would know if this was significant, everyone was going to know was going to get involved. And he described number of times that that amazing experience of people calling out to the screen because they recognizing people, people really engaging with a film in a way that [00:35:15] he he wouldn't have done himself as a sort of European brought up in a particular kind of way. You know, he talks about screenings that as home in the 70s, when he was bringing home films from the Film Society waiver on my set, rigidly still, no one was allowed to speak. And if they did, they may never be invited back again. And yet, he was this other way of watching film, which was much more interactive, and much more obviously passionate, and he realized there were different ways you could interact with these, these films, and it was important to him. Yeah. [00:35:48] And that's absolutely the complete opposite approach to what was happening with the Herald where they were saying that, oh, gosh, you know, you know, actually, if you tell people that this material is here, they'll want to come and x he said, That's right. But the that whole fear that actually, if somebody knows something, is the year that they want it back, or they'll take control away from it all. [00:36:10] Yeah. And I think it reflected that that person who said that, to me at reflected her worldview, which was very much an institutionalized Harold to you that we have power, because we have information, we have these materials, even if we do nothing with them, we still have the power. But other people don't necessarily think like that. [00:36:29] So sort of shifting your whole, your whole perspective on it as as as an amazing thing. And I think that takes a lot of bravery. And I think you have to accept that a few open out, you will be challenged. And I think you have to think that's okay. We'll deal with the tension in this can mean a new creative approach to our materials as possible. And if we willing to listen as well as speak about them, we might learn something. [00:37:01] So I'd like to know why. [00:37:04] Why to Jonathan think one archiving into bicultural ism, why would they important? [00:37:12] Well, hey, he had been working with Clive salary, who was [00:37:19] the really the only trying filmic of us we hit in the country at that time. And they had been looking at the collection, the film collection, which was part of the in the National Library, I believe. [00:37:33] And they found out that they were these films that Shelley by and Ivanka night with a because they will not try it. So they were liable to explode. And they've been finding out what they were and are getting really excited. And he said, Jonathan says Clive came up with the idea of Film Archive. He's the one who said we need a dedicated Film Archive. And Jonathan ran with it. So he had he said, at one point, you know, I hit thought I'd be a film star. Then I saw myself on screen, and I realized that really wasn't going to happen. The city also for Sam Neill was never going to be very well known because he had such a nice nasal voice. [00:38:08] And so he started thinking, yeah, this is something this is something I could focus on. This is something I can do. This is something I believe in, and Lindsay Shelton and the fee and Sheldon in the film society had been doing the film festival and there was a lot of interest in film. And there was an appetite to think about the local film as well as international phone because we often, you know, the mainstream culture, New Zealand often looks overseas. But when I looked at this collection of this, these materials that Shelley by I think they started thinking actually this is this is really important stuff we've got here. This is really interesting stuff. Why don't we look at it further. [00:38:51] And once they were they actually got Well, there was a big struggle, but they finally set up a charitable trust. And they say that the Film Archive and he was the only employee to begin with. And he sees it out very much along the lines of the North American and European cinema, Film Archives that he was seeing, because it's all he knew at that time. He gone around and he done the trap and he learned from people how they were doing these things. But it wasn't till about later that he started to realize that actually, Marty culture was a very important part of this. But of course, there was the wider social issues going on. You'd had, you know, best in point the protests of sem point were happening at that time. fino Cooper head, head lead the heck way to Wellington about no more land being sold away from Marty ownership. You had he when you hit the Springbok tour. And Jonathan went on some of the Springbok matches, NT Springbok matches, and you know, part of the conversation was in New Zealand was, well, you're very, you know, mighty people were saying you've seen in pattern, meditators film people saying to pack as well, you're really happy to fight for the rights of black South Africans on the other side of the world way not fighting for us. So the conversation he chopped and changed your time at all, I had been doing their thing. And the trio mighty proponents where we're taking petitions to Parliament and saying you see, this is the language of the country quantity, all movement was started, everything was shifting. So I think Johnson was good at hearing what was going on in the world and thinking about it as well. And, and government institutions was starting to shift and change about about it three to why Tony and what that means for them, they were starting to be some education around it. So I think there's a whole lot of things like I don't think he was like, there's magic genius. But I think he thought really had about what made this film archive different from any other Film Archive in the world. Actually, it was the mighty materials that made it made it different from other colonial spaces. And this was with this is we're finding out about, and he was curious, and he was smart. So you know, why wouldn't? Why wouldn't he? [00:41:08] And I guess it's not just about the materials that the town of the collection of items, but it's about actually how you handle the items? And who has access and who has rights? And [00:41:20] yeah, that kind of thing. Yeah, and they had to, they had to work that out for themselves. Because it wasn't an archive at that time, which have been set up along European lines, which head I can't think of any other act Film Archive in the world, but actually had good relationships with indigenous peoples in local people. And had, [00:41:44] God forbid, given away enough power to allow other people to tell them how, how to handle these materials, or who could handle these materials or who couldn't. And that was a struggle all the way through the 80s. And that first decade of the archive was, you know, okay, so so we've got these materials and we speaking to people were taking them out to people. And some people were saying, Well, actually, what do you what are you doing with those materials? They not yours the hours and Jonathan described thing at the old buckle straight Museum, showing some films around about the time of tomorrow at which was such a big, they call it a watershed and New Zealand of first time really Marty Marty materials had been shown as ash or had been shown as being a significant as European materials. And so they play these films and Jonathan say this young Marty Fowler got up and he said, Well, how are you? How are you to handle these materials? And [00:42:43] what are they paying you to handle these materials? And why are you doing this? And then they don't, they're not yours. And Jonathan was really upset and shopped in there was a commercial ID and he spoken response to the young men, but I thought, what a brave person, what a brave mentors to stand up and shout the director of an archive and say, you know, actually, these aren't yours. So how are we going to have better relationship? And Jonathan, keep telling that story. So it was obviously of significance to him, he it got some thinking going on in his head. And he talked to her with her inner about it afterwards, because she hadn't been there that day. And she said, I'm coming with you every time you show these phones now. So they talked about warming the films, you know, she was the air to introduce and contextualize, and talk about what was on these films and sing a song and then teach the audience the song and involve people in what these materials were. So it wasn't an anthropological or ethnological ethnographic exercise and looking at these cultures of the past, you know, this was looking at images of a living culture of people who have connections, and they are engaged in these spaces, and they have control over these materials. So it's trying to really shift conversation. [00:44:03] I think that it's interesting. I think they're just kind of warming [00:44:08] of films [00:44:11] store happens. I know, I go to the screenings at the archives. And there is something to be said, for having somebody introduce and give context and actually say that this is, you know, [00:44:24] these are real people. It's not. It's not there's something there on screen, you know, it does. It does. [00:44:32] I agree, it's really important. Yeah, I agree. And, [00:44:38] and I was at a conference a few years ago at it, and it was about, [00:44:45] I think [00:44:45] was about indigenous filmmaking and indigenous representations on screen. And it was a really obvious divide between the Australian filmmakers and a New Zealand filmmakers in the room. boy had come out. So there was a wonderful panel discussion about what boy meet for Marty filmmakers. And it was real disappointment that actually talk and Ainsley Gardner hadn't managed to make much money off boy, because he has this discussion about you know, we've got this blockbuster, now, God, you must be rolling in it. That wasn't the case. But there was this conversation about how you how you represent people who haven't been represented so much on screen before appropriately. And there are some Australians have been doing some interesting work, projecting archival images onto the outside of a building. And then I think in the northern territories, and predictions of local people, and they will white filmmakers. And I think I asked the question, so do you have local people who who are descended from those in those images with you? And do they continue to contextualize for the, you know, for the audience, and the guy in the white guy said, but it would be like pulling out a performing monkey, I mean, that's just not appropriate. And he really didn't understand the notion of contextualize and so so it's not a matter of, you know, dragging mot person and saying, Well, you did the kind of key on and you can leave again, it's actually about involving someone in the project, or perhaps an indigenous person instigating the project or owning the project or, or, you know, running it in some way. And actually, in this situation, I think the instigator of the project was a local indigenous person, but in the white people sort of gone off understand the same because they'd seen that that was the brief, you know, that they hadn't connected the dots back into the networker of the landscape and the people. [00:46:43] So you know, there's still lots of misunderstandings around there how that works. And I'm sure it doesn't work. Well, all the time. But you know, you've got to give it a go. [00:46:52] At least people trying? Yeah, [00:46:55] yeah. And it does make a difference here. [00:46:58] So within the icon, do you think? Or did the Jonathan talk about any homophobia within the archive context? [00:47:12] I don't remember him. Know, is this this is the short answer. I don't remember him talking about that. And I know there were there were other gay people working at the archive. I don't know if they were conversations about that. I don't, he didn't really talk about, [00:47:35] like, at the time was the homosexual or form, right? It would have been quite logical in the same way that this year you guys are showing [00:47:44] films in relation to the politics around it would have been quite appropriate to be showing films in but maybe the word forms and 96 at while they were I mean, actually. [00:47:54] So turning the question around, I don't remember him talking about homophobia. But I do remember him. So celebration guy film. So I know it is leaders in the archive from Peter wells saying, thank you so much for playing all my films again. And they've been a an exhibition, actually, at the National Library, I think was postcards of law for something similar to that in the early 90s, mid 90s. And Jonathan had curated a collection of Peter wells, early films, mostly the short films, a lot of them had guy themes. And, you know, he'd been given the opportunity to think about films right to love and hate chosen, paid his films. And [00:48:42] patient was always very out and he was in his films often hit guy themes. And Jonathan really admired that about him. And they were the films that was some of the films in New Zealand so Peters films always played overseas when he was shine New Zealand films along with Marty films and films, films, and he made sure he didn't just follow sort of a mainstream version of what New Zealand filmmaking was because it was really easy to go down the goodbye port Pyros all the time. There's nothing wrong with goodbye pot pie. But there were other films, they will always out of films from the 70s onwards, you know, and, and I and I think that's one of the things I like about Jonathan's work, as it always seemed to me that he, he flipped the sort of standard notion of New Zealand, us on its head, he loved doing it. And all sorts of ways, you know, New Zealand's actually a lot quicker than you think it is. And it's a lot browner than you think it is. And it's a little more radical than you think it is, in particular kinds of ways. And he was interested in and I think part of it was [00:49:44] part of it was an influence from Frank feminist friends who were looking at challenging the mainstream in many ways. And a, you know, I love I love the idea that he was challenging the notion of what it was to be a key bloke. And he was doing it with the contents of the archive, you know, he was challenging notions of national identity and a sort of a picture risk view of this is New Zealand, you know, that we are just these beautiful landscapes and nothing else, actually, we're a lot more complicated than it. And that's okay. That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. And let's have a look at some of the tensions and our relationships. And I think the way he curated [00:50:22] the the films he showed and the way he did exhibitions, like the big exhibition that he did with Sergio two feet in LA and [00:50:31] 89. And then the other one, he didn't Italy in 93, I think he was, he was really saying, We are, we are so much more than a simplistic view of us. We are all these different things. And I think he challenged assumptions through their style of presentation of film. [00:50:50] One of my memories of Jonathan was that he was incredibly playful in some boost of he would he would love to some foolish as you say, the the kind of the mainstream mainstream view and just kind of like, you know, people that click. [00:51:05] That's right. That's right. And [00:51:09] when you're doing sort of scholarly research, you can lose your sense of humor. But when you listen to the kind of things that Jonathan would put together and those radio the radio documentaries and [00:51:24] they fucking funny, I just what he is the way he would all you guys actually would it together quotes from various films. So you know, I have one sales guy saying, finally, we have a New Zealand film culture that can show us what it means to be New Zealanders. And then you have a quote from, you know, some med Bruno Lawrence character who's going off his head and wearing negligee and pulling the door off somebody's house with his tractor, or whatever it is, you know, he was always he was he was here, he just must have had this sort of great sense of humor, but also this incredible brain for thinking through how we how am I going to juxtapose these materials? How am I going to bring them together to create this this sort of funny, subversive, challenging, but also just on a purely oral level engaging narrative, because it's still had to sound good, right? It couldn't just be client together to make a political point, he was actually quite subtle about these things. And I think he was really influenced face, Eisenstein, the you know, the notion of juxtaposition of things that seem to be at odds with each other to tell a narrative or a sad face of narrative. [00:52:40] And just thinking of his some of his creative output, I mean, I'm thinking of a day without and early 90s, which was a radio soundscape commemorating HIV AIDS. [00:52:53] Yeah, it was, I find it still to be one of the most moving I've has his works. And he did that with us, Elizabeth alley. [00:53:02] And he was thinking, you know, there was a wider movement, and the state's thinking about these shows, and that's where that day without the notion of it comes from, but he made a very local, he made it about local people. And he quotes from people talking about the day they were diagnosed with HIV, or the experiences that that they'd had. And it was quite influenced by Derek gentleman's blue, and which was, you know, Derek, and various other things ranging from his diary, but also from creative pieces. And [00:53:38] it's a, it's an absolutely beautiful work that one [00:53:45] here and install playful at the same time as that surgery saying, you know, important, really important issues. And there's a thing about, yeah, this whole race, or quite the other day on Facebook, about this whole generation of young men who died, and they were artists, a little creative people, and that ordinary follows, and they were, you know, and the end are all gone. So like a day without actually makes you think about that again, because I think, I don't know if it's that we've swept it under the carpet. But how did we forget so quickly? And, you know, Jonathan's very close friend, and partner for a long time, very Hendrix told me in quite a lot of detail about nursing, various friends who are dying of AIDS, before the new drugs came in. And you know, people going blind, and people's faces turning black and the kind of cancers that overtake them. And so Jonathan was around us, you know, this was happening here in New Zealand, this wasn't just happening overseas. And the friend who was a camera man's name was Bailey, he died. And Jonathan and fairy put money towards a commemorative plaque for him. So it was very much he was very aware of what was going on. And, and I have to say, I've thought from time to time, given that, when people have been honest about it, I see that Jonathan loved having sex, and he loved having sex with a lot of people. And he traveled overseas about how did he keep themselves safe? Would it? Did he figure out early on what was going on and was more careful than other people? I don't know. Because he didn't talk about how we keep themselves safe. But some people don't assume he had HIV AIDS when he got stuck with his cancer. And I think because he was a game in there was just this assumption, and handle the same so many people die. You know. [00:55:34] So I remember one of his mates pulling out in our cafe of his because Jonathan have to carry different colored cafes, and had a notion the bottom and it was written in two different hands. And it was Jonathan picking someone up, he was at like a conference or something. And he was running nice this person sitting next to him saying, or what do you like? And the other guy was saying what he liked. And he said, I shall we go somewhere and say, you know, this is a guy who Malcolm McKinnon's, I think stood up at the end of the funeral and seed and Jonathan loved six. And that one wasn't saying it because he'd been having sex with Jonathan they all made but you know, it was an important really important part of his life. He, you know, he who he was and having, you know, the freedom to be with her he wanted to be with was a huge, important part of his life. But Malcolm also said, he felt that in some ways, Jonathan never figured out. [00:56:24] Not never figured out love, but he never had the long term sort of permanent relationship. But then maybe he didn't want that. Maybe that's not how he worked. He stayed friends with every lover, I think by one, he did ahead. Really good friends. But I mean, if he was your friend, he caught you off every day. You were connected, you can eat full life. But then they would have been sexual encounters overseas with people peps. And he never saw her again. I don't know. Yeah, I think it's important to talk about these things, because they are in a huge part of people's lives. [00:56:56] Will for some, say, biographers or researchers. I mean, I've read where things are just kind of glossed over. So we just don't go there. [00:57:07] Yeah. And and I, [00:57:08] it was interesting that you're saying at the start, that there was that tension between kind of your kind of queer theory and the archival aspects of Jonathan's life? [00:57:17] Yeah. [00:57:18] And I mean, was it hard to talk to people about I mean, there's really intimate details about Jonathan. [00:57:24] Sometimes I didn't ask, because I mean, this is also someone who hadn't died all that long ago. And so with ex lovers, [00:57:34] sometimes I didn't feel I could I could ask them, maybe I wasn't brave enough. I don't know. Maybe I do it differently now. But I sort of had the people would volunteer what they were comfortable talking about. [00:57:46] Most people didn't talk about seeks. And also, you know, as far as they're concerned, I'm a straight woman. I'm a straight woman doing a biography, based on the notion of Jonathan being the director of a National Archive. So maybe if I head a different angle, there was a discussion part way through the process of do I scrapped the sort of archival by cultural perspective on us? Do I make this a queer study of this fella? And I asked a lot of people, do I do this or don't I do this? And I think it was actually Roger Horrocks seed. It was incredibly important to Jonathan that he was gay, but it's not the lens he saw himself through. So No, I don't. And I talked to Malcolm McKennon about that tone. He said, No, I don't think that's the lens. So it's thinking through theories of camp, you know, his huge theories that came from qui theory and stuff. And Malcolm said he wasn't Kim. That's not who he was. I wouldn't see him through a Caitlin's either. He was Jonathan doing all the things he did. And that was one of the aspects of his life. So I sort of took that advice from people who knew him. And, [00:58:55] yeah, I'm pretty happy with it, with it as the approach. But I always knew that part of my interest was the fact that he was this guy, man, he was out. And I really admire that about him. [00:59:09] Did his out in this cause any problems? I'm thinking that I certainly know, like, in the mid 80s, there was no increased kind of verbal abuse and physical bashings saying, Well, I'm not I'm not sure if it was Jonathan. But I mean, did he encountering if [00:59:25] he didn't turn New Zealand, and you know, people describe him as being very tall and walking forcefully through the streets and sailing, very confident, and maybe or maybe not, but it had something to do with those things not happening to him, they never can tell. It was actually in Melbourne, of all places, where he totally didn't anticipated I think he was in Melbourne for Film Festival, some some similar event, he was walking down the street on his own and brightly colored codes. And he was punched in the face. And very had in his glasses flew off, there was blood, and he couldn't see his glasses, because they come off. And he was sort of scrambling around on the ground, and no one helped him. And there was this feeling from the people who talked to me about this episode that [01:00:16] people knew about HIV and AIDS at a time, there was a lot of fear about what it means that they didn't want to go near someone who might be gay, because it was blood, you know, and he felt really frightened and distressed by that episode, and his friends to toe. And, [01:00:36] and it affected him physically as well as emotionally because he had to take three down. And these are an amazingly time where he's writing to an ex partner, an ex lover, and a saying, you know, I'm gonna have to have my teeth done. And this has happened and I'm, I'm just feeling really crappy. And I'd really like you to come see me. And, and I think that leader has quite significant because they've broken up on quite bear tunes, and things were great. But he really needed some cumin comfort. And yeah, I think I think for him, it was very unexpected. Do you [01:01:15] know what either [01:01:17] written down somewhere, but I think it was actually 90s rather than it is for him? [01:01:22] Does he talk any more about about that kind of passion? I mean, how did that influence my teen years? [01:01:30] I don't know, because he didn't talk about it. So that I've seen that one leader. And then other people have talked to me about it. I don't know if he sort of tucked it away and just thought Oh, well, that's happened to me or but then probably a day without was done maybe after that. So maybe he was thinking about the sort of wider politics of homophobia and things when he did that. And I'm not sure. [01:02:00] Because he didn't know he didn't he didn't really talk about it any further. I think his person and I think it would probably was probably a patient who emotionally to put things in a box and tied up and want it to go away a little bit. Or maybe he was just getting a little things out and I but he doesn't talk about changing the ways he walked around the strange or changing has practices in any way. Maybe his friends would know if maybe his friends would observe changes that he might not have even described, but nobody told me that. [01:02:34] What do you think is kind of staunch as of personality comes from [01:02:39] and that resilience? [01:02:42] That's a good question. [01:02:45] He had a Nana, Nana on the O'Reilly side. And she was I an opinionated in staunch woman who said exactly what she thought it every moment and he adored here. And she was often a source of discomfort for other family members who found her embarrassing or difficult, but now he just thought she was great. And there was another grammar on the other side of the family who had who who was also a strong woman who had, I think, Simon kill me if I get this wrong. But I know there was an older woman in the family and she had brought her children to Australia, to New Zealand from Australia. And she had run a kiosk on her own and she looks after these skills and she you know, the buy side of the family that he is women who were really strong, and he admired them along. So I think power has seen so how he was what probably it was genetic. And then he he identifies behaviors that he liked, you know? And, and he he enjoyed outrageousness, and he enjoyed, you know, being a bit on your face. And I think sometimes his response to cruelty would be Fuck you, I'm going to do things to times as big as I did them before. And he talks about that in terms of his colorful dress. You know, he felt he had to be transparent when he was a school. So once he lifts going didn't need that anymore, he was going to be outrageous. So I think he had a bit of an advocate, I think it's become an anarchist, really, you know, he wanted to challenge all the roles. And if people were mean or stupid, then he was just going to go harder. But I don't know what makes someone like that. And then another person have a different reaction, I'm not sure. And I, I I'm not a psychologist, and I didn't know a psychoanalytic study of him. And I am. I'm fascinated by the psychology of someone like, like him, but I couldn't explain it. [01:04:50] I know for me personally, that [01:04:53] seeing his his strangeness around Wellington, even when, you know, we weren't working together was just inspirational, you know, to have somebody who, as you were saying earlier, was leading the national institution who was an openly gay man. [01:05:13] Because I think for a lot of people growing up, certainly, in the 60s, 70s, 80s, [01:05:20] being gay, there wasn't a very good future ahead of you, you know, [01:05:24] you're gonna be lonely. You are going to be isolated. You wouldn't get a good job. And yeah, once he was along that you were probably going to die bands. Yeah. So to see somebody actually out the just doing it and just being Yeah, it was so important. [01:05:44] Call, you know, I in and i think that i think that he would, he wouldn't want to put words in his mouth, but I think he'd be stoked, you know, and ask your question, did you ever tell him it? Know, [01:06:01] because I think you only kind of come to those thoughts afterwards. On reflection, and [01:06:10] But yeah, I think that just the fact of being and being happier and celebrating difference. [01:06:20] This huge, [01:06:21] yeah, that's huge. One of the pieces of queer theory that most interested me in relation to Jonathan is, comes through Michel Foucault, his work, you know, history of sexuality and all that kind of work he did. But this notion of [01:06:37] being able to find spaces outside hitter normal activity where you can be otherwise you where you can be yourself, you know, and I think Jonathan did manage with a, with a sort of filter from the inside or not, but he created spaces where he could be exactly who he wanted to be. And I think that's awesome. And I think it's hard. And I think, what I'm interested in or as in between us, you know, how you get beyond, ironically enough, given that I've been an activist, and it's all about cataloguing? How do you get beyond the naming of the indexing of everything and just simply live in the ways that you believe are right and natural, and I feel like he managed that in some small way. And I think that in itself is inspiration.

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