By Sam Dallas
It’s been a great year for New Zealand cinema and now there’s even more reason to celebrate.
Matariki and Tracker have both been selected to premiere at this month’s highly influential Toronto International Film Festival – a stepping stone to North American success.
Fast-paced drama Matariki, by debutante film director Michael Bennett, shows the results of chaos caused by one event. A rugby league star drives past a deserted carpark late at night and witnesses a fight – he intervenes and as a result gets bashed. When a young car thief steals the man’s apparently abandoned car, he unwittingly starts a chain of events that will change his life and the lives of others, forever.
Shot entirely in South Auckland, the film stars Alix Bushnell (Go Girls), Sara Wiseman (Outrageous Fortune), Iaheto Ah Hi (Sione’s Wedding) and Michael Whalley (Eagle vs Shark).
Written by Bennett and Gavin Strawhan and produced by Fiona Copland, Matariki will screen in the Contemporary World Cinema section on September 11, 13 and 18 before it's released to Kiwi audiences on November 18.
UK/New Zealand co-production Tracker, set in 1903, is about an ex-Boer war guerrilla in New Zealand who is sent out to bring back a Maori accused of killing a British soldier.
Directed by Ian Sharp (Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War) and starring Ray Winstone (The Departed, Robin of Sherwood) and Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors), the manhunt thriller – shot in Auckland and the Queenstown-area – will screen in the Contemporary World Cinema section on September 12, 14 and 18.
It tops off a successful year for the New Zealand film industry, which saw BOY become the highest grossing local film in history after passing The World’s Fastest Indian after only eight weeks. The Taika Waititi comedy is the seventh top grossing film ever released theatrically in NZ behind Shrek 2, Titanic, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar.
Home By Christmas, written and directed by Gaylene Preston (Perfect Strangers), also had local box office success, taking more than $1 million; it begins its Australian campaign next month.