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Three New Zealand Films Selected for Toronto Film Festival

From the New Zealand Film Commission


13 August 2014

The Dark Horse and What We Do In The Shadows will screen in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival – joining previously announced Māori action epic The Dead Lands.

Written and directed by James Napier Robertson and produced by Tom Hern, The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of little-known New Zealand speed-chess champion Genesis Potini, played by Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider). Curtis and James Rolleston (Boy) – who stars as Genesis’ nephew Mana – will be in Toronto with Napier Robertson and Hern for the film's international premiere.

The Dark Horse opened the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland and Wellington and is currently on general release nationwide. It has taken over $750,000 in the first 10 days of its New Zealand release. The NZ Herald called it a “great, deeply affecting movie” and one “that is going to leave its mark on local film history.”

Rolleston will also be at the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of The Dead Lands, in which he plays Hongi, a Māori chieftain's teenage son who must avenge his father's murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones.

What We Do In The Shadows is a vampire mockumentary co-written and directed by Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark, Boy) and Jemaine Clement (Eagle vs Shark, Flight of the Conchords) and produced by Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley and Emanuel Michael. Waititi and Clement also star in the film as vampire flatmates Viago and Vladislav.

What We Do in The Shadows has enjoyed success on the international film festival circuit after premiering at Sundance and screening in the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. It has taken close to $2.5m to date at the New Zealand box office and is currently in its eighth week of release.

“We are excited to have these three excellent films selected for Toronto,” says New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive Dave Gibson. “The range of genres really showcases New Zealand’s broad filmmaking talent – from a vampire mockumentary, to the inspiring true story of a former speed-chess champion and an action epic featuring the ancient martial art of mau rākau. This selection of strong features shows how New Zealand film can truly compete on the world stage.”

The Dead Lands and The Dark Horse will screen in the festival’s opening weekend and What We Do In The Shadows will screen in the closing weekend.

About The Dark Horse:

The Dark Horse was written and directed by James Napier Robertson and produced by Tom Hern of Four Knights Film. It was supported by the New Zealand Film Commission, Arama Pictures, Southern Light Films, NZ On Air and the New Zealand Government's Screen Production Incentive Fund with financing by Fulcrum Media Finance. It was released in New Zealand by Transmission Films on 31 July 2014.

About What We Do In The Shadows:

What We Do In The Shadows is a vampire mockumentary co-written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. It was produced by Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley and Emanuel Michael and received post production funding from the NZFC. International sales are handled by Wild Bunch.

About The Dead Lands:

The Dead Lands was written by Glenn Standring and directed by Toa Fraser, and stars James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka, George Henare, Xavier Horan and Rena Owen. An official NZ/UK co-production, it was produced by Matthew Metcalfe and funded by the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Film Production Fund Trust, Te Mangai Paho, Images and Sound, the UK’s Day Tripper Films (backed by Ingenious Media) and Lip Sync Productions. Transmission Films are releasing the film in New Zealand on 30 October 2014. International sales are handled by XYZ Films.

About the Toronto International Film Festival:

The Toronto International Film Festival takes place annually in September and is one of the world’s leading public film festivals, screening around 300 films from more than 60 countries. It is considered a key festival for launching North American and European independent productions. New Zealand films which have previously screened at Toronto include The Last Dogs of Winter, The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, The Vintner's Luck, The World's Fastest Indian, Matariki, Beyond The Edge, White Lies and Giselle.


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