A freelance writer and copywriter for over fifteen years, Helene has written for publications and brands all over the world and couldn’t imagine herself in any other job. A shameless film freak, her first onscreen experience involved a trip to Avondale’s Hollywood Theatre at the age of five to see Yul Brynner in The Ultimate Warrior and she hasn’t looked back since. A big fan of documentaries, she has interviewed subjects as diverse as Henry Rollins, Jimmy Choo and Beyonce Knowles, and also has her own beauty blog - which can be found at www.mshelene.com - for the purpose of raving about red lipstick, big hair and other essential indulgences.

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Film Fess by Helene Ravlich

25 Latest News Articles

THE LAST OF THE UNJUST – a new look at the Holocaust

Posted on Thursday 5/19/2016 May, 2016 by Rialto Admin


When I was eight years old my parents and I were living in Yugoslavia, and one of my mum’s goals in life at the time was to teach a young Helene about “the real world”. This included all manner of trips to other European countries to visit places like the catacombs and famous sewers of Paris, as well as Dachau concentration camp. Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany and was intended to hold political prisoners, and I vividly remember that our trip there was via a bus that left from a busy Munich bus station with no number or destination displayed on its front. The camp is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km northwest of Munich, and it was interesting to me even then that the local people were fully willing to acknowledge its existence to visiting tourists, but literally dared not speak its name. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labour and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals, as well as foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded further down the track. I was hugely affected by the trip as a kid, especially as the day was grey and we were amongst just a handful of people there. The gravity of its history weighed heavily on my mind even at eight years old – it was my first knowledge of The Holocaust, and a very vivid one at that.

NATIONAL GALLERY – on the documentary, and the world famous institution

Posted on Thursday 5/12/2016 May, 2016 by Rialto Admin


The world famous National Gallery in London is one of the great museums of the world, with an incredible 2400 paintings from the 13th to the 19th century housed within its ‘must visit’ walls. Showing tonight on Rialto Channel is NATIONAL GALLERY the film, a fly-on-the-wall documentary that takes the lucky viewer behind the scenes of a true London institution, a destination that is amongst the top five places to visit for tourists visiting the city and those that live there. The film has been called more than just a documentary but a “portrait of a place”, its way of working and relations with the world, its staff and public, and, of course, its exceptional collection of paintings.

HIPPOCRATES: THE DIARY OF A FRENCH DOCTOR

Posted on Monday 5/2/2016 May, 2016 by Rialto Admin

“The doctor is in, but he’s neither motivated, competent nor altogether sober…” says The Hollywood Reporter of this clever little flick, which is definitely no visit to Shortland Street on a Monday evening in May.

HIPPOCRATES: THE DIARY OF A FRENCH DOCTOR is a rather darkly comic, at times sad and most definitely socially potent portrait of a Paris hospital, as seen through the eyes of a young intern making his very first rounds. But what’s fascinating about its treatment is the way director Thomas Lilti has Benjamin deliver the lines directly to the camera, almost docu-fiction style. It’s as if Benjamin is talking directly to us, the audience, trying to convince us that he has what it takes to make it in this high stakes profession, saving lives all along the way.

DEEP WEB - going beneath the tip of the internet’s iceberg

Posted on Thursday 4/28/2016 April, 2016 by Rialto Admin


If you’re into online personal security and the likes (or in fact, buying illegal weaponry), you may have heard terms bandied about like “Deep Web” and “Dark Web”. The internet is like an iceberg with just 10 per cent floating above water. This is the 'surface web' like Google and Facebook, whilst the other 90 per cent is the deep web and it requires special servers to access it.

The terms can be confusing, so I fell back on the words of Daniel Miessler - an information security professional and writer based out of San Francisco, California – to help me out with a little summary of the basics:

The Internet: This is the easy one. It’s the user-friendly internet we all use to read news, visit Facebook, get angry about politicians and shop. Just consider this the “regular” Internet. It’s the bits you can access and see easily, and although some of it looks wildly offensive and gives a platform to utter bell ends, it’s all pretty much transparent.

Celebrating CARTEL LAND – and my top five cartel films on the big screen

Posted on Thursday 4/21/2016 April, 2016 by Rialto Admin


The seemingly never ending – and escalating - drug war in Mexico seems to have been all over screens both big and small during the past few years, as well as in the tabloids thanks to the likes of douchebag Sean Penn, who made headlines after supposedly “reporting” for Rolling Stone onhis trip to Mexico to meet notorious drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Tonight sees one of the better representations of the issue making its New Zealand debut on Rialto Channel in the form of CARTEL LAND, an Oscar and BAFTA-nominated documentary about two vigilante groups tackling the murderous Mexican cartels.

CARTEL LAND director Matthew Heineman has said: “it was always incredibly important to me that the film reach audiences throughout Latin America, especially Mexico. I made CARTEL LAND to give voice to those trapped by senseless cycles of violence, suffering and corruption,” and it’s for this reason that I love both its authenticity and sensitivity to the victims of its subject.

The documentary follows a physician in Michoacán, Mexico who leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Across the U.S. border, it focuses on a veteran who heads a paramilitary group working to prevent Mexico's drug wars from entering U.S. territory. By focusing on responses to the cartels by factions on both sides of the border Heineman has created a fiercely gripping tale that isn’t an easy watch, but a rewarding one.

With CARTEL LAND in mind, I bring you my pick of on screen cartel tales, which in no particular order are…

MURDER RAP: inside the Biggie and Tupac murders

Posted on Thursday 4/14/2016 April, 2016 by Rialto Admin

I count myself as extremely lucky filing my weekly missive for Rialto Channel for a huge number of reasons. These include being in the position of having a platform to rant about one of my favourite subjects, as well as being in awe of the sheer volume of killer docos constantly being produced globally and the fact that I get to watch and talk about them! I am spoilt when it comes to kick ass new discoveries every week, and have become pretty bloody fussy when it comes to what I do – and don’t – like.

THE MURDER TRIAL and the reality of real life cameras in real life courtrooms

Posted on Thursday 4/7/2016 April, 2016 by Rialto Admin


The winner of four awards including a BAFTA for best documentary, tonight’s THE MURDER TRIAL was one very ambitious project from the get-go.

For the first time, remotely operated cameras were placed inside a British criminal court to capture a murder trial in its entirety. After three years of negotiation, the Scottish High Court gave the filmmakers permission for this extraordinary and unique access - to film the case of a man accused of murdering his wife. Her body has never been found, there is no weapon, no crime scene and her husband appears to have a cast iron alibi. It has all the makings of a killer mini series, but is firmly grounded in real life.

A spoonful of sugar helps… pretty much no one, ever: THAT SUGAR FILM

Posted on Friday 4/1/2016 April, 2016 by Rialto Admin

It seems highly ironic that I am writing about tonight’s documentary, THAT SUGAR FILM whilst Easter weekend is in its death throes, surrounded by a nation gleefully overindulging despite our hideous statistics when it comes to childhood obesity and diabetes. I can also view the film quite objectively (and smugly) as I have never had even the inkling of a sweet tooth, however when someone finally gets around to making “That Salt Film” I will probably be running in fear.

For those unaware of its premise, THAT SUGAR FILM is in essence “one man's journey to discover the bitter truth about sugar”. It follows Damon Gameau as he embarks on a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as “healthy”. This means the likes of fruit juice, snack bars and flavoured water get a right dressing down, as Damon highlights some of the issues that plague the sugar industry, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. 

(T)ERROR

Posted on Thursday 3/24/2016 March, 2016 by Rialto Admin

The premise of tonight’s controversial documentary (T)ERROR is quite bloody astounding, and it defies belief how the directors actually pulled it off. The slightly slow paced at times but still solid outing is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counter- terrorism sting operation, an all-too-familiar scenario in post-9/11 USA.

HOMME LESS - a portrait of the man as a model, photographer and person of no fixed abode

Posted on Tuesday 3/15/2016 March, 2016 by Rialto Admin


The picture of what has been called “high-functioning homelessness”, Mark Reay is the enigmatic subject at the centre of tonight’s beautifully paced documentary, HOMME LESS. As the opening credits roll, we see ex-model Reay prepare for his day in extreme close-up. The still handsome, struggling photographer wets his hair and slicks it back with quality brand styling product, ties his tie, does up his pants and puts on a suit jacket, making sure the handkerchief in the breast pocket is just so. He knots the laces of his well-shined leather shoes, and after all of this, is ready to face whatever the day throws at him. All good thus far, until we realise that Reay is performing his toilette in a pretty grimy 

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