Kiwi film to premiere at Rotterdam
[Press Release by NZ Film Commission]
The debut feature from Auckland-based director Armagan Ballantyne, The Strength of Water, has been selected for two of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious film festivals.
The film will have its world premiere in competition at the 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival on Sunday 25 January 2009. It is one of only fourteen features chosen to compete in the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition. The line-up includes films from all five continents competing for three top prizes of $35,000 (Euros 15,000) each. This is the first time that a film from New Zealand has been included in the competition.
The film then goes on to screen in the Generation programme of the 59th Berlin International Film Festival in February, one of 27 features to be selected out of thousands of submissions from around the world.
In The Strength of Water, when a mysterious stranger arrives in their isolated coastal town, ten- year-old twins Kimi and Melody are forced apart. Kimi must become strong enough to let go of what he loves the most.
“These days, growing up can be dangerous”, said Berlin’s Generation director Maryanne Redpath in consideration of this year’s programme. “By no means are all the adventures here of an external nature. Conflicts occur ever more frequently in the mind and are capable of causing just as much trouble there.”
The Strength of Water was written by acclaimed New Zealand playwright, Briar Grace-Smith who work-shopped it with Ballantyne at the Sundance Directors and Screenwriters Labs in Utah. It was also developed at the Binger Institute in Amsterdam. The film was shot on location in and around the Hokianga region in the far north of New Zealand.
The Strength of Water was made with finance from the New Zealand Film Commission, Filmstiftung NRW in Germany, NZ On Air and Perceptual Engineering.
A New Zealand – Germany co-production, the film was produced by Fiona Copland of Filmwork, who has previously produced several features by Harry Sinclair as well as award winning documentaries. Karl Baumgartner of Pandora Film in Frankfurt is co-producer, along with Raimond Goebel. Baumgartner has produced over 60 films including features by Emir Kusturica, Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki. Pandora Films was the German co-production partner for Whale Rider.
Armagan Ballantyne will be in both Rotterdam and Berlin to introduce the film to audiences. She will be joined by Fiona Copland, Raimond Goebel and Karl Baumgartner.
Hopscotch Films will release the film in New Zealand later this year. International sales are being handled by NZ Film which is the sales arm of the NZFC.