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NZ producers bring Canadian story to big screen

News Release – for immediate release

June 16, 2008

NZ film producers to bring true Canadian story to big screen

Morcan Motion Pictures, the New Zealand film production company behind the movie, 'Precious', announced today it also plans to produce a period feature film to be shot on location in Canada next year.

Titled 'Into The Americas', the film will be based on the true story of 19th Century English seaman John Jewitt who spent two-and-a-half dramatic years enslaved by Native Americans on Vancouver Island.

The producers, the father-and-son producing/writing team Lance and James Morcan, also wrote the screenplay. They describe 'Into The Americas' as a spectacular action-adventure showing two vastly different peoples - Europeans and the First Nations people - colliding head on.

The Morcans' screenplay is based on an intriguing slice of Canadian history.

On March 22, 1803, nineteen year-old John Jewitt was one of only two European survivors left after his crewmates clashed with Mowachaht Indians while anchored in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island. Torn between his desire for freedom and his love for a Mowachaht maiden, Jewitt endured more than two years as a captive of the Mowachahts.

Although officially a slave, Jewitt eventually became an indispensable member of the tribe because of his occupation as a blacksmith. He learnt the Mowachaht dialect, married a young native woman and developed many close friendships. Mowachaht chief, Maquina, was a kindly father-figure and strict captor all at once.

The film is based predominantly on the comprehensive journal Jewitt kept during his time with the Mowachahts.

In 2003, the story was thrust into the limelight when John R. Jewitt, a sixth-generation descendant of John Jewitt, travelled to Nootka Sound to meet with Mike Maquina, a descendant of Chief Maquina, to mark the 200th anniversary of their forefathers' meeting.

Morcan Motion Pictures are producing the film in collaboration with various allies in the Canadian film industry and expect to begin filming in May, 2009. New Zealand locations may also be used in a possible NZ-Canadian co-production.

Several Hollywood directors, including a leading Canadian director, are currently assessing the project. Q'orianka Kilcher, the actress who played Pocahontas in Terrence Malick’s 'The New World', has expressed keen interest in playing the lead female role.


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