Wellington Scoop

NZ feature to have world premiere at opening night of film festival

News from NZIFF
The New Zealand International Film Festival today announced that the New Zealand film The Dark Horse will have its world premiere at opening night of the Festival in July.

The Dark Horse will open NZIFF in Wellington on 25 July at the Embassy Theatre. The film is directed by James Napier Robertson, produced by Tom Hern, and stars Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider) and James Rolleston (Boy). The Dark Horse tells the story of the late Genesis Potini, the Gisborne-based chess champion who overcame mental illness to mentor youth on the East Coast.

A further 12 New Zealand films are today revealed for the 2014 programme, ten of which will have their world premieres at NZIFF. All feature-length films screening at NZIFF are New Zealand premieres.

“At NZIFF we’ve worked long and hard to create the best possible setting to celebrate and launch the work of our own filmmakers. We’ve been more than amply rewarded this year with the world premiere screening, on our opening night, of The Dark Horse, a film that we know is going to mean a lot to New Zealand audiences for years to come. We’re just as proud to be providing a rousing welcome home to Gerard Johnstone’s hilarious Housebound, which premiered to ecstatic audiences earlier this year at SXSW,” says NZIFF Director Bill Gosden.

“NZIFF will also premiere a further three local features, each of which demonstrates amazing inventiveness on a low budget, and eight New Zealand documentaries covering a diversity of subjects, both local and international,” says Gosden.

The films are:

The Dark Horse (Opening Night Wellington, World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/124 minutes/ M violence, offensive language, drug use
Dir James Napier Robertson

Be the first in the world to acclaim a moving new New Zealand film. Cliff Curtis is superb as the late Genesis Potini, the speed chess champion who passed on his gift to countless East Coast children.


Aunty and the Star People (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/82 minutes
Dir Gerard Smyth

In New Zealand, writer Jean Watson is an anonymous elderly woman living in a modest Wellington flat. In southern India she is revered as the famous ‘Jean Aunty’. Gerard Smyth’s documentary explores her fascinating double life.


Cap Bocage (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/73 minutes
Dir Jim Marbrook

Jim Marbrook, director of Mental Notes and the original Dark Horse documentary, takes us inside the long environmental campaign that followed the pollution of traditional Kanak fishing grounds in New Caledonia in 2008.


Erewhon (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/92 minutes
Dir Gavin Hipkins

For his first feature-length film the widely exhibited New Zealand photographer Gavin Hipkins invests a richly pictorial essay with the 21st-century resonance of Samuel Butler’s lively utopian satire Erewhon, written in 1872.


Everything We Loved
New Zealand 2014/100 minutes/Censors rating tbc
Dir Max Currie

A man, a woman and a four-year-old boy retreat to a house outside town. What are they hiding from? Debut writer/director Max Currie staggers the revelations to dramatic effect in this suspenseful psychological drama.


Hot Air (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/90 minutes
Dirs Alister Barry, Abi King-Jones

In the years since New Zealand politicians began to grapple with climate change our carbon emissions have burgeoned. Alister Barry’s doco draws on TV archives and interviews with key participants to find out why.


New Zealand 2014/107 minutes/ R13 horror scenes, offensive language, violence
Dir Gerard Johnstone

Welcome home to the Kiwi horror house comedy that took SXSW by storm. Gerard Johnstone’s brilliant genre mash-up stars Rima Te Wiata, Morgana O’Reilly, Glen-Paul Waru and Cameron Rhodes.


Voices of the Land Ngā Reo o te Whenua (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/96 minutes
Dir Paul Wolffram

Paul Wolffram’s fascinating and eloquent doco about Māori instrumental traditions accompanies Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo as they perform in a series of remarkable South Island wilderness settings.

notes to eternity (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/150 minutes
Dir Sarah Cordery

Renowned critics of Israeli policies – Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Sara Roy and Robert Fisk – provide personal substance and historical perspective to their arguments in this impressive film by New Zealander Sarah Cordery.


Orphans and Kingdoms (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/84 minutes/Censors rating tbc
Dir Paolo Rotondo

In writer/director Paolo Rotondo’s debut feature, three homeless teenagers break into a deluxe Waiheke Island home and find themselves caught in a tense psychodrama with the conflicted owner.


REALITi (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/95 minutes/Censors rating tbc
Dir Jonathan King

An up-and-coming media executive has good reason to question the very facts of his existence in this micro-budget sci-fi chiller from director Jonathan King (Black Sheep, Under the Mountain) and novelist Chad Taylor.


Te Awa Tupua: Voices from the River (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/67 minutes
Dir Paora Joseph

This beautiful new film from the director of Tatarakihi honours the power and poetry in the stories of Whanganui iwi, past and present, and their longstanding struggle to reclaim guardianship over their ancestral river.


Tūmanako/Hope (World Premiere)
New Zealand 2014/90 minutes
Dir Susy Pointon

Many roads lead to the Hokianga in this engaging documentary portrait of several generations of inhabitants: local iwi, long-established farming families, and the alternative lifestylers of the 60s and 70s who put down roots and stayed.


NZIFF runs in Wellington 25 July – 10 August.

NZIFF programmes will be available online and around town from June 27 in Wellington. For Festival updates visit www.nziff.co.nz and register to receive e-newsletters.