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24 Frames: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

A documentary paying tribute to Jonathan Dennis - first director of the New Zealand Film Archive.

For many years Jonathan Dennis produced the Film Show – a densely layered film review and interview programme which broadcast on Radio New Zealand.  He died at the age of 49 in January 2002.

Jonathan was passionate about saving and exploring New Zealand’s heritage. In the early 1980s he was part of a small group of people that fought for a national film archive, and when it was established he became its first director.

Just prior to his death, long-time friend Elizabeth Alley recorded an interview with him exploring this passion for film. 

To mark the tenth anniversary of his passing producer Gareth Watkins has taken this interview and shaped it into a documentary that combines the sounds, textures and voices that surrounded Jonathan and his work.


New Zealand Film Archive

Jonathan Dennis Library

Gareth Elizabeth and Jonathan
Gareth Watkins, Elizabeth Alley and Jonathan Dennis. Photograph courtesy of Gareth Watkins.

Jonathan Dennis

Jonathan Dennis, by Gareth Watkins.

7pm Thursday 19 January and 2pm Sunday 22 January 2012

The documentary was based on an interview with Elizabeth Alley.  Additional interviews were from material preserved and made available by the New Zealand Film Archive Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua, courtesy of the Jonathan Dennis Collection.

Voices heard include Witarina Harris, Len Lye, John O’Shea, Ted Coubray and Sharon Crosbie.Prue Langbein read extracts from The Pictures by Janet Frame, and Ana Hato and Deane Waretini sung the waiata heard throughout the radio version.

The radio version also included music from Patrick Flynn, The Tahiwis, Ruru Karaitiana and From Scratch.  Much of the radio version was underscored by John Charles’ music for the films Utu and The Quiet Earth.

Special thanks to Emma Kelly and the Film Archive for their invaluable assistance.

24 Frames: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told was produced by Gareth Watkins.

Please note that due to copyright restrictions the internet version of this documentary has been edited to exclude musical material.