Curious Film and Yes Please Films, in association with The New Zealand Film Commission.
Directed by Curtis Vowell. Written by Sophie Henderson.
In New Zealand, culture and identity are never black and white. Add to this the clashes of whanau and loyalty, and the grey area becomes vast. These themes are explored within the confines of a South Auckland petrol station as Fantail, the passion project of Curtis Vowell, Sarah Cook and Sophie Henderson reaches cinema screens.
Tania thinks she's Maori. She works the graveyard shift at a petrol station saving money so she can take her brother Piwakawaka to Surfers Paradise to find their dad.
When Pi goes away to pick kiwifruit, Tania is left by herself to plan for their trip. Stuck in a petrol station – getting security training and making sure her boss, Rog, doesn't lose his job - Tania can't rescue her brother from his new mates and from thinking he can fly.
Dean, the regional manager, arrives to keep an eye on Rog but Dean has his eye on Tania, too. When Dean questions Tania's culture and who her family is, she starts to piece together the truth and realises she must save her brother and bring him home.
Then one night a cheeky little bird ruins everything and Tania pays the ultimate price for being a hero.
Embarking on small voyages of self-discovery, Tania and Pi travel very different paths, just within touching distance of each other. Their roads merge once more, but the pair are set on a collision course with heart breaking results.
Fantail brings together the incredible acting talents of Sophie Henderson (Outrageous Fortune), Jarod Rawiri (Harry), Stephen Lovatt (Top of the Lake) alongside newcomer Jahalis Ngamotu to create a sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, often eccentric late night world inside a petrol station.
Fantail was brought to life as part of the New Zealand Film Commission’s Escalator; an initiative that provides selected filmmaker teams production finance of up to $250,000 for one of their ideas.
Sophie Henderson’s writing is captured impeccably by director Curtis Vowell in his debut feature, bringing the occasional ray of sunshine into the dreary interiors of a petrol station with exquisite detail.
With a methodology that saw the cast and crew work fast and instinctively, Fantail was shot in 20 days and demonstrates how strong performances and an original story can transcend the lowest of budgets. This is unabashedly an actor's piece – one that focuses on belonging; to a place, to a family and to a culture.
It is distinctly New Zealand.
Fantail premieres at The New Zealand International Film Festival - playing August 4th at SKYCITY Theatre and August 9th in Wellington.