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Wellington short film at Cannes

Press Release – Accentuate
A Wellington short film The Haka has won selection to two festivals in France – the Cinema des Antipodes Cannes Cinephiles which runs from 6-17 July, and the 23rd Festival des Antipodes, Saint-Tropez 13-17 October.

Based on the classic ‘Football at Christmas’ World War One story, The Haka is directed by Isaac Lee, written by April Phillips and Isaac Lee, with cinematography by Matt Sharp, and is produced by Clarative Media 2021 from Wellington.

The 15-minute film set in the trenches depicts Māori soldiers in World War I in 1914 who have received Christmas gifts from home. When the two sides agree upon a ceasefire, the Germans want to play a game of football. The Māori, who don’t play football, want to play rugby. To keep the peace, their officer orders his men to play football. To save face and keep their honour, the Māori soldiers agree on the condition that they are allowed to perform a Haka before the game, and the commanding officer reluctantly agrees.

The all-Wellington production extended to the set, built in a paddock on Isaac Lee’s Akatarawa Valley farm.

Isaac Lee said, “We’re delighted to win selection to these two prestigious film festivals. They came about due to our legal advisor Michael Stephens commending THE HAKA to the President of the Cinema des Antipodes, Bernard Bories. We were thrilled when Bernard confirmed that we’d won selection to both festivals.”

Bernard Bories, the President of the Cinema des Antipodes, said “THE HAKA is a beautiful film on a terrible war which caused millions of deaths. But this film, with humour and sensitivity, gives us faith and hope in humanity. It also teaches us that with open minds and mutual respect, wars could be avoided. My grandfather was a soldier during WWI and was even at Verdun, and I am sure that he would have loved THE HAKA, this little moment when the war was suspended.

“It is a film that we have to share to remember that there were wars, but also that they can be avoided if we share our mutual cultures. I am very happy to be able to share it with the French audience.”

THE HAKA was released online on Anzac Day and can be viewed here.

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