Director: Warwick Thornton
Starring: Hamilton Morris, Bryan Brown, Natassia Gorey Furber, Sam Neill, Ewan Leslie, Tremayne Doolan, Trevon Doolan, Gibson John, Matt Day
The western has long proven a source of fascination for Australian filmmakers. While seemingly the most American of genres, there are obvious elements of shared experience which attract Australian storytellers to the form. It is a genre of landscape, of wide open spaces, which Australia has in spades. It is also a genre of colonisation, of nation building at the expense of an existing indigenous population, a dark history that Australia and America share. Eight years after earning critical acclaim, and the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Camera d’Or, for his debut feature Samson & Delilah, Warwick Thornton has dipped his toe into the western with Sweet Country, bringing an indigenous perspective to the form. Continue reading
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley
For most casual film fans the New Zealand cinema of the last decade-and-a-half has been defined by Peter Jackson and his adventures in Middle Earth. But this period has also seen the rise of one of the world’s more fun and interesting cinematic voices, writer-director Taika Waititi. Nominated for an Academy Award in 2005 for his short film Two Cars, One Night, his 2010 feature Boy was up until recently New Zealand’s highest grossing domestic film, his vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows won acclaim all over the world, and he has been tapped to enter the blockbuster big time as director of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok. His current film, and the new highest grossing New Zealand film at the domestic box office, is his most complete, fully realised film to date, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Thirteen-year-old Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) has spent his life bouncing from foster home to foster home. As child services officer Paula Hall (Rachel House) observes, he’s a “very bag egg,” with a track record of stealing, spitting, kicking things, breaking things and loitering. Continue reading