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The Catlins to feature in NZIFF Thriller Human Traces

Media Release for immediate release: Thursday 13 July

The Catlins to feature in NZIFF Thriller Human Traces

One of Otago’s wildest and most beautiful areas, the Catlins features prominently in New Zealand psychological thriller Human Traces.

Human Traces is written and directed by Christchurch-raised Nic Gorman, and stars Sophie Henderson and Mark Mitchinson as a husband-and-wife scientist team sent to rid a Subantarctic island of pests. When a mysterious young man (played by Vinnie Bennett) arrives at the remote research station, secrets threaten the couple’s relationship in a hostile wilderness, 750 km south of New Zealand.

The film was shot in two South Island locations, the Catlins and Banks Peninsula, over just 25 days. Human Traces is one of this year’s NZIFF Special Presentations and will screen at the Regent Theatre on Wednesday 23rd August at 8pm and at Rialto Cinema on Thursday 24th August at 1.45pm. Nic Gorman will be present at both screenings.

“The intent with Human Traces was to make a psychological domestic thriller, inspired by Lars von Trier and Roman Polanski, but transplanted to one of the bleakest places on earth – New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. I’ve long been fascinated by the dark history of these islands. Our fictional location is loosely based on Campbell Island. I was researching its geography and the upper slopes of Campbell Island reminded me of Banks Peninsula with its tussock spurs, volcanic rocks and sharp outcrops. We amalgamated this location with the rugged and dramatic coastline of the Catlins to create our island on the screen. The landscape is as much a character in the film and through it I wanted to explore our relationship to nature itself – we colonise it, try to shape it, but in the end, we are subject to forces much greater than us,” says Nic Gorman.

The filming in the Catlins took place on a Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust reserve. YEPT General Manager Sue Murray says the organisation was thrilled to work with this environmentally-aware company.

“They were filming on one of our reserves for about three weeks and were fantastic to work with. We provided volunteers mostly to look out for the penguins – although the filming was not in the vicinity of their breeding areas, they were very sensitive to all wildlife in the area. The company also left the area as pristine as they found it. They were a lovely bunch of people to work with and we’re really looking forward to seeing our patch on the big screen!” says Murray.

“We knew filming in an isolated location would be a huge challenge – the local support we received was fantastic. The Catlins served the story as an isolated pressure cooker like nowhere else could. As anyone who has spent time down there knows, there is something so raw and visceral about that corner of the earth. We hope seeing it up on the big screen will be an amazing experience for NZIFF audiences,” says Nadia Maxwell, Human Traces Producer.

“The feature debut from Kiwi writer-director Nic Gorman deftly pairs loaded suspense with slippery character study,” says NZIFF Director Bill Gosden.

The full NZIFF programme for Dunedin and Gore will be available online from Monday 17th July 7pm and on the streets from Tuesday 18th July. The festival screens at the Regent Theatre and Rialto Cinema for just over three weeks, from 8 to 30 August.

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