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Dwarf’s Star Turn in Pre-Quake Indy Pic

August 8, 2011

Dwarf’s Star Turn in Pre-Quake Indy Pic

Mark Hadlow – who has been cast as “Dori the Dwarf” in Peter Jackson’s upcoming Hobbit films – stars in an independent comedy-drama, The Holy Roller, that opens in New Zealand cinemas on 15th September 2011.

Directed by Patrick Gillies (Kitty, Offensive Behaviour, Huhu Attack!), the film is an uplifting moral fable with similar thematic overtones to The Shawshank Redemption. "When I was first asked to be in The Holy Roller I was a little bemused... it was a film that was based heavily around religious themes, good overcomes evil. Having a religious background, I was inquisitive to see how it would all work," Hadlow says.

The story revolves around struggling preacher, Luke (played by Australian actor-writer-producer, Angus Benfield), who transforms a seedy inner city nightclub into a thriving church, much to the displeasure of the local crime-lords. Hadlow plays cranky, wheelchair-bound MS sufferer, Wally, who hinders, then assists Luke in his attempts to win the heart of busker musician, Kate (Victoria Abbott). "Everything is there: plot, tension, heroes, villains, romance, questioning conviction... all the ingredients that make The Holy Roller a great film to have been involved with," says Hadlow.

The Holy Roller is notable as being one of the last films to have been shot in pre-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. Benfield estimates that between 25% to 30% of the film’s locations have been destroyed or severely damaged in the earthquakes. “Many of the key scenes were filmed in what is now the red zone, including the CTV building and the many brick laneways around Lichfield and Manchester Streets," he notes. Director Gillies says that the film will spark memories for viewers familiar with Christchurch. "I think it serves as a time capsule of what the city was like before the quake. There will be nostalgic moments. People will see parts of the city that are no longer in existence," he says.

Although based in Wellington for The Hobbit shoot, Hadlow's heart remains firmly down south, having acted for The Court Theatre and also having worked for the Christchurch City Council as an Events Co-ordinator. "It was especially great to see a whole lot of local actors from Canterbury get cast, and put their talents to work on a film that has real heart and soul. It makes you very proud to be part of an industry that keeps moving forward and upward at a time when money is hard to find," he says.

The Holy Roller has been selected for the New-Media Fest in Arizona, the Cine Con Valor International Film Festival in Mexico, the Projecting Hope Film Festival in North Carolina and the JP2 International Film Festival in Miami. It has its New Zealand premiere during the Christchurch leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival on Tuesday 23rd August.

Distributed by Rialto Distribution, IndustryWorks and Heritage HM, the film will have its New Zealand theatrical release on September 15th, its Australian release in October/November and a North American release in early 2012.


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