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NZ film selected for prestigious Cinequest Film Festival

Ben Zolno with co-star, Ivana Palezevic in a scene from Status Pending

Status Pending Press Release:

New Zealand independent feature film, Status Pending, an improvised romantic dramedy, has been selected to play in competition at the 2018 Cinequest International Film & VR Festival.

With social media themes, it’s fitting that Status Pending’s world premiere will take place at Cinequest, located in Silicon Valley which is home to companies such as Facebook, Apple and LinedIn.

Status Pending is Ben Zolno’s directorial debut and explores whether relationships can survive an environment in which our self-worth is based on how we view our status through a lens of “likes, comments and shares”.

Cinequest’s Programming Director, Michael Rabehl, was immediately drawn to Status Pending as a film that incorporates humanity in a modern-day tech environment.

"We loved the emotional depth of the characters, as well as how the story addresses the struggles we all face at times in our lives and relationships", says Rabehl.

In Status Pending, we spend a day with Lizzie (Ivana Palezevic), social-media obsessed baker who has spent the past six months dating her Tinder match, Ryan.

While Ryan wants more from the relationship, Lizzie wants to keep her options open.

When scrolling through her social media feeds, Lizzie stumbles upon a once-in-a-lifetime, year-long trip around the world, which happens to be sponsored by the company that Ryan runs.

Emotions run high as Lizzie has only a few hours to decide whether to chase the adventure, or commit to the man beyond her screen.

Ex-Californian resident, Zolno was looking to escape a world in which so many people were struggling to chase the “perfect life”.

He eventually settled in New Zealand, where he was surprised to find the chase is still evident, and began wondering if his travel was, ironically, a sign that he too was chasing the perfect life.

This was the seed for Status Pending.

As a budding filmmaker, Zolno was also pleased to discover the burgeoning film industry within Wellington, New Zealand - home to Weta Digital, Sir Peter Jackson, and now James Cameron.

"A lot of people talk about making feature films, but never seem to get around to doing it.

And when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was frustrated at being one of those people.

I come from an improv and documentary background, so, I found some like-minded Kiwis who were keen to explore an improvised- dialogue story I'd developed, and we just went for it," says Zolno.

Shot on a microbudget budget model, the filmmakers had to be innovative whilst also maintaining high production values.

The actors in the film also created current social media profiles for their characters, which have become a marketing hook for the film; you can interact with the characters online.

"We had to create profiles and sites featured in the film and shoot social media responses in real time which took a lot of coordination,” Zolno says.

They also utilized new technology, shooting dual cameras with the then recently released Sony A7S, a light sensitive DSLR camera that can see in lower light than the human eye can.

"This sensitivity probably gave us an extra two hours of shooting per day, and definitely assisted in the calibre and continuity of the performances,” says Zolno.

Status Pending was shot over ten days, in one location, with a skeleton crew and was produced by Kelly Kilgour (Chronesthesia).

"Technology plays a huge and constant part in our daily lives and our connectivity with the rest of the world.

But we haven't had the time as a society to absorb how this has impacted our relationships and our engagement with family and friends.

There are benefits, such as staying connected to people we may otherwise have lost touch with.

But there are potential costs in how it risks creating distorted perceptions of ourselves and others," says Kilgour.

Praise has already begun to flow with the first review from festival blog site, Klaus at Gunpoint, noting - “The brilliant New Zealand feature film is the kind of movie you watch when you want to discover your characters, and maybe find out where you fall along their path."
– Christopher Garcia.

Full review here: Details are to soon be announced of other festivals the film has been invited to.

Status Pending will have its New Zealand premiere later this year (dates TBC).

© Scoop Media

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