“There are a few moments in childhood that have a lasting impact. Not because they change the course of your life, or because they arrive with any great fanfare, in fact quite the opposite. Those are moments where an unexpected joy is found in the everyday, a moment of beauty in the ordinary. Two Cars, One Night captures one of those brief moments.

The story, or rather the situation, has some personal significance for me as I have spent many nights as a child in the confines of a large Holden outside various pubs, waiting for adults to finish their business. For children, the dark world of grown-ups is a mysterious one. It is also very boring. You make your own fun, you invent games, you pick on each other, you pass the time, which can often be hours.

By nature, when faced with grim circumstances, we tend to look for the light, the warmth, the beauty in life. It is this mood, this feeling, I wanted to capture in the film. One small moment of beauty, happiness, or love, lives longer in the memory than a lifetime of sorrow. This brief but enduring encounter, is like a flower in a field of coal, small but beautiful, it stands out, leaving an impression on the mind. The children’s meeting is a chance at something. Love, or even human contact, like a seed, searches for soil to grow. Sometimes it takes root, sometimes it doesn’t, but it always has the potential to create something wonderful. That is life.

I do not seek to vilify adults or make presumptions about rural life. I want to show how human contact creates something special in a not so special environment.

Setting the story at Te Kaha pub, a place I have known since my childhood where I grew up on the East Cape of New Zealand’s North Island, it seemed appropriate to also cast it in the area, using children from our tribe, Te-Whaanau-a-Apanui.

The cast, Rangi Ngamoki, Hutini Waikato, and Te Ahiwaru Ngamoki, were found at the same school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maaori o Maraenui, about 20km from Te Kaha pub. Although the children had never acted before it became apparent in the auditions that they were naturals. We were lucky to have the skills of Nancy Brunning to help coach the kids, and during the shoot we were all amazed by their performances, how well they could hit marks and also their ability to take direction, process and use it.”

Technical Info: 
Black and White, 35mm, 1.1:85, Dolby SR
Production Year: 
Production Company: 
Defender Films Ltd.
2004 - 'Best Short Film Panorama Section' Berlin Film Festival, 'Best Drama' Aspen Film Festival, 'Prize of the Cinema Jury' Oberhausen, 'AFI Grand Jury Prize' American Film Institute. 2005 - Academy Award Nomination for Best Short Film Live Action
Sales Agent: 
NZ Film