Alister Barry's new film documents the 11-year war that raged between teachers and the New Right after Tomorrow's Schools shifted education towards a market economy model.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2007
Alister Barry’s self-imposed mission to catalogue and record the numerous injustices and madnesses that our great and good’s flirtation with new-right economic theory gave rise to is well advanced with the release of A Civilised Society; a film which could be seen as forming a loose trilogy with his earlier In a Land of Plenty and Someone Else’s Country. Starting with a brief recap of the virtual revolution that overturned NZ society in the early 1980s, this film focuses on the specificsof one of its more active fronts; education, and specifically the numerous Government attempts to coerce schools into accepting ’bulk funding’ and individual employment contracts. This is a dignified, informative and honourable piece of work, a gentlemanly, but still incandescently angry portrait of what a theory-driven spasm of economic meddling did to oneof the world’s exemplary education systems. Barry never fails to remind us that sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, this generation is living through some turbulent times. — Graeme Tuckett