Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children wins film festival selection

11 09 2008

Vincent Ward’s new feature Rain Of The Children is winning selection in some of the world’s leading film festivals.

It has been selected for two competitions: at the Hawaii Film Festival and the Chicago Film Festival.

“The Chicago selection is full circle for me,” says Ward. “The new film evolved from my 1980 documentary In Spring One Plants Alone, which won a Silver Hugo at Chicago. It is exciting that my new film will also be in competition at Chicago.”

Rain Of The Children has also been selected for the Hof Film Festival, one of the most influential film events in Germany, which is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

And it will be representing New Zealand in Thailand at the Bangkok Film Festival, with the director as a festival guest and a reception in the film’s honour hosted by the New Zealand Ambassador.

The film has already scored international success by winning the grand prix at the New Horizons Film Festival in the Polish university city of Wroclaw. The film then screened in the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Its world premiere in the Sydney Film Festival was followed by screenings in the Melbourne Film Festival with actor Temuera Morrison representing the film, and in the Brisbane Film Festival.

Its New Zealand premiere at the Auckland Film Festival was attended by more than 300 Tuhoe representatives many of whom traveled to Auckland from the Urewera region where the film was made.

Rain of the Children uncovers the story of an old Maori woman who was the subject of Ward’s In Spring One Plants Alone, which he made when he was 21. It showed the life of 80-year-old Puhi who lived in remote bush country looking after her 40-year-old son Niki. Ward lived with Puhi for 18 months but never unravelled the mystery of her life. In the new film, we learn her extraordinary story.

Critics have been impressed. “A haunting historical epic,” wrote the Hollywood Reporter. “Emotionally rewarding, powerful and heart-wrenching,” wrote Variety. Auckland Film Festival director Bill Gosden wrote: “You are bound to be amazed and shaken by the spectacular fusion of documentary, myth and personal history.”

Rain Of The Children begins its New Zealand theatrical release in main centres next week, after previews starting today (Thursday 11th) in seven provincial towns.


Under the Mountain Feature Film starts shooting

4 08 2008

Under the Mountain, the motion picture adaptation of the popular, award-winning Maurice Gee novel of the same name, will begin principal photography on Monday August 11, 2008. The film’s locations around Auckland, include the iconic Rangitoto Island, a volcano in the Hauraki Gulf. The production will conclude in early October 2008.

The film will be released in New Zealand in 2009 by Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Under the Mountain is produced by Jonathan King and Matthew Grainger of Index Films Limited and Richard Fletcher of Liberty Films Limited. Chris Hampson, Chris Bailey and Trevor Haysom (In My Father’s Den) are the Executive Producers.

Jonathan King is directing Under the Mountain, from a screenplay adaptation written by himself and Matthew Grainger. Jonathan King most recently directed and wrote the hit kiwi film Black Sheep which won four international awards, grossed more than $NZ800,000 in New Zealand, $NZ2million in the United Kingdom and sold to 49 international territories.

Under the Mountain is a dark fantasy adventure story about teenage twins who battle dark forces hidden beneath Auckland’s volcanoes.

“I want to deliver a scary and exciting adventure for teenage audiences,” says Jonathan King. “The story will contrast a contemporary Auckland city setting with a fantastic subterranean world beneath.”

The creature effects will be produced by Academy Award® winner Richard Taylor’s Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand. Weta Workshop was responsible for effects in the Academy Award® winning Lord of the Rings films and King Kong, as well as Jonathan King’s earlier Black Sheep.

Jonathan reunites with Black Sheep Director of Photography, Richard Bluck and the film features the work of Production Designers Kim Sinclair and Ralph Davies, Editor Chris Plummer (Dean Spanley) and Composer Victoria Kelly (Out of the Blue). Kelly’s original score for Under the Mountain will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the second of their sponsorships of local films.

Sam Neill (Dean Spanley) stars as the benevolent Mr. Jones and Oliver Driver (Black Sheep) will take the role of the evil Mr Wilberforce. Under the Mountain’s cast introduces two exciting young newcomers, Sophie McBride as Rachel and Tom Cameron as Theo. The 28-member Kiwi cast also includes well-known New Zealand actors Nathaniel Lees, Madelaine Sami and Matt Sunderland.

Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished novelists. In 1979, Under the Mountain (Penguin) was his first novel written and published for teenage readers. The book has sold more than 70,000 copies and has often featured in the New Zealand school curriculum.

Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

Investors include New Zealand Film Commission through Film Fund 2, New Zealand on Air, Footprint Films, 120 dB Films, Ally Media Finance, TVNZ in addition to significant international pre-sales.

International sales are being handled by Kathleen Drumm of NZ Film.

Ngai Tūhoe to attend Rain of The Children Film premiere

11 07 2008

Vincent Ward’s RAIN OF THE CHILDREN premieres on Saturday 12th July, 6.15pm at the Civic theatre, in the 40th Auckland International Film Festival.

The New Zealand premiere will host approximately 400 members of Ngai Tūhoe Tribe who will make the trip from around the North Island to be at this prestigious event, and a packed cinema is anticipated.

Accolades have been flowing from the two key US industry publications, Hollywood Reporter and Variety, since its world premiere at Sydney Film Festival.

Temuera Morrison, Waihoroi Shortland, Taungaroa Emile and the five of the Tūhoe women that play Puhi will be at Saturday’s premiere.

With a heart-rendering Powhiri and these distinguished guests looking on, it will be a feast for the senses, a truly spectacular event.

Filmmaker Gregory King off to Amsterdam for latest project

10 07 2008

Award winning New Zealand filmmaker Gregory King has won selection to the prestigious Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam to develop a new feature film project Tane’s Krystal.

The Binger Film Lab is a leading international film development centre staffed by a line up of internationally acclaimed mentors and advisors. Once each year a handful of outstanding film projects chosen amongst hundreds of applicants from around the world are developed within the intense hothouse environment it provides.

King said the news was a big shot in the arm “ I was really surprised to get in considering how tough it is to gain selection now, it’s a great validation in the projects worth and promise and its definitely given me a new lease of life and strong incentive to keep making films”

The film King will develop at the Binger Film Lab, Tane’s Krystal, is a spiritual odyssey through time and space, which follows the extraordinary fate of Eighteenth Century soldier, poet and philanderer, Nikolaus Von Puttkamer, from his beginnings in 18th Century Europe through to his adventures in pre-European and 21st Century New Zealand and beyond.

“We are very honored and excited to have Gregory at The Binger Film lab this year”, says Binger Film lab director Ido Abram. ” His new project Tane’s Krystal again reveals Greg’s originality and power as a writer / director and we are looking forward to supporting and being part of his next project.”

Gregory’s latest film, A Song Of Good, was funded through the low budget digital scheme, Headstrong and recently had its world premier at the Rotterdam International Film Festival where it played to sell out audiences. It has gone on to play at film festivals around the world. A Song Of Good has been selected to play in the New Zealand International Film Festivals in July and August. To see screening details pick up a programme or visit the website online at

Maori Film Festival programme announced

12 05 2008

The organisers of the third Wairoa Moari Film Festival are proud to announce the launch of its programme, available online at the Official Website: This year’s festival event will occur at the dawn of the Matariki celebrations, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend May 30th to June 2nd. The festival will celebrate Maori and indigenous film achievement, and this year will pay special tribute to three of our early film pioneers, Witarina Harris, Don Selwyn and Barry Barclay.

Opening the festival will be the classic comedy feature CAME A HOT FRIDAY, starring Don Selwyn and Billy T. James. A Mexican-Maori themed celebration will take place, including a film-makers networking hui sponsored by Nga Aho Whakaari Maori in Film & Television. Other feature films featuring Don Selwyn will be screened, including RANGI’S CATCH and THE LOST TRIBE. “Don Selwyn was one of the founding Patrons of our festival, and we were greatly saddened by his passing last year,” says Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol. “Don’s early support helped make the festival a reality, and his legacy will live on both on the screen and in the continued success of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

The festival will honour the memory of pioneer Maori actress Witarina Harris with a piano-accompanied screening of the silent classic UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS. This 1927 feature film will be the Centrepiece of this year’s festival. Witarina Harris passed away early in 2007, at age 101.

Also highlighted at the festival will be the works of Barry Barclay. “Barry Barclay was special guest at the 2006 festival,” says Mrs. Koziol. “The loss of Barry to the Maori film-making community this year leaves a huge gap in our knowledge and dreamscape.”

A special screening of Barry Barclay’s feature documentary THE NEGLECTED MIRACLE will be presented. The documentary explores the plight of indigenous genetic conservation initiatives around the world, with sequences shot in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Australia. Also to be screened will be episodes of the TANGATA WHENUA series, which Barry Barclay directed in collaboration with John O’Shea and Michael King. “The legacy of these three leaders in the Maori film world will live on, on screen, and in our hearts and minds at this year’s Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

The international programme will include works from Canada, Australia, Sweden and USA. The New Zealand premiere of the feature film FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND presents a poignant and wryly funny story of family and healing. This is the first feature by Seminole/Creek film director Sterlin Harjo, a guest of the festival in 2005. From Canada, comes SEEKING BIMAADIZIIWIN, a touching story of youth suicide and depression in native communities. An extensive Australian selection is presented, including New Zealand premiere of the offbeat, quirky and poignant BIT OF BLACK BUSINESS native short drama series. “The Wairoa Maori Film Festival will be priced low to encourage community attendance, for example all Marae screenings will be by gold coin koha”, says Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol.

This year’s festival will also include the MAORI FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS DINNER with entertainment by Maori guitar veteran BILLY TK. The music of BILLY TK still reflects his early influences of Hendrix, Santana & McLaughlin and every time he plays the young people are gobsmacked and the oldies relive the past!

Gaiety Cinema and Taihoa Marae, Wairoa
Friday 30th May to Monday June 2nd 2008

MIC Toi Rerehiko & Academy Cinema, Auckland, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Paramount Cinema & NZ Film Archive Mediaplex, Wellington, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Regent Cinema, Taumarunui, July 2008 (final dates TBC)

Vintner’s Luck feature film – cameras set to roll

18 02 2008

Vintners Luck
Niki Caro, Jeremie Renier, and Keisha Castle-Hughes

Filming will begin tomorrow (February 19, 2008) on director Niki Caro’s new movie project, the much anticipated film adaptation of The Vintner’s Luck.

New Zealand actress and Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes, who came to worldwide attention in Niki Caro’s Whale Rider, is re-uniting with Caro for the project. The film is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by NZ author Elizabeth Knox.

Niki Caro, whose two features Whale Rider and North Country have each earned Oscar nominations, teamed up with Joan Scheckel to write the screenplay.

The Vintner’s Luck is a story of love, wine and angels. It tells the tale of Sobran, a peasant winemaker in 19th Century France and his life-long relationship with an angel.

“It’s really exciting to get the project underway,” said Caro. “It’s a scary kind of honour to bring Elizabeth’s book to the screen,” she said.

Caro is also looking forward to working again with Castle-Hughes. “Keisha and I have such a close relationship and strong history; it’s great to work with her again in her first ‘grown up’ role.”

Filming will begin at an Auckland vineyard tomorrow, before cast and crew relocate in March to the Burgundy region of France then Belgium.

Belgian actor Jeremie Renier (Atonement; L’Enfant) takes the lead role of wine-maker Sobran Jodeau, with Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith , The Nativity Story; Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger) playing his beautiful wife Celeste.

“It is my first adult role and I was initially quite nervous,” said Castle-Hughes. “But now I’m really looking forward to it. It is going to be a challenge, but I love challenges,” said the 18 year old.

French actor Gaspard Ulliel plays the role of angel Xas, a curious creature who appears more human than divine. Ulliel has more than 20 productions behind him including A Very Long Engagement and Hannibal Rising.

American actress Vera Farmiga who plays Baroness Aurora, had her first break when she starred opposite the late Heath Ledger in the 1997 television series Roar. She has since appeared in a number of independent feature films before coming to worldwide attention in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Novelist Elizabeth Knox says she is excited about the project. “I am so pleased production is underway and am over the moon about the cast and crew. I can’t wait to see the finished product, it will be like giving my book a new life,” she said.

The Vintner’s Luck is being produced by Laurie Parker, Robin Laing, Niki Caro, Pascal Judelewicz, Ludi Boeken and Jean-François Klein.

The Vintner’s Luck is a New Zealand-France co-production, and is backed by the New Zealand Film Production Fund, the New Zealand Film Commission, the Motion Investment Group (Belgium), OLC Rights Entertainment (Tokyo) in association with Ascension Films, Birka Film Production Sarl and Kortex Sarl.

International sales are being handled by Kathleen Drumm at NZ Film.

For more information contact:

Kathleen Drumm, NZ Film / /Tel: +64 4 382 7682

Key facts:

Director: Niki Caro
Writers: Niki Caro, Joan Scheckel
Producers: Laurie Parker, Robin Laing, Niki Caro, Pascal Judelewicz, Ludi Boeken, Jean-Francois Klein
Cinematographer: Denis Lenoir
Production Designer: Grant Major
Editor: David Coulson
Costumer Designer: Beatrix Pasztor
Makeup Designer: Denise Kum
1st AD: Liz Tan

Additional Information:

The film’s New Zealand producer Robin Laing has produced seven feature films including Perfect Strangers, Ruby & Rata, Bread and Roses and Mr Wrong. She has Executive Produced an additional two features. Laing has served as Chair of the Trust Board for the NZ Film and TV School, trustee of the NZ Film Archive and the NZ Film Festivals Trust and is founding president of Women in Film and TV (Wellington). She has represented the Screen Producers and Directors Association on both the Copyright Council and Screenrights boards, and has served on the board of the NZ Film Commission.

Director of Photography is Denis Lenoir (Paris Je T’aime), production designer is Academy Award winning Grant Major (The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Whale Rider) and the editor is long time Caro-collaborator David Coulson (Whale Rider; North Country).

The Vintner’s Luck will feature special effects by New Zealander Harry Harrison and choreography by Guiliano Peparini and the aerial choreographic team for Cirque de Soleil.

Investors: This New Zealand-France co-production is backed by the New Zealand Film Production Fund, the New Zealand Film Commission, the Motion Investment Group (Belgium), OLC Rights Entertainment (Tokyo) in association with Ascension Films, Birka Film Production Sarl and Kortex Sarl.

The Tatooist feature film secures US deal

1 11 2007

The tattooist
The Tatooist

Ghost House Pictures has acquired North American rights to The Tattooist, the supernatural thriller starring Jason Behr.

Ghost House Pictures is owned by Robert Tapert and Spiderman’s Sam Raimi, who recently visited NZ to talk with the film’s director Peter Burger and producer Robin Scholes about the final cut and to help guide the final stages of post production Ghost House Picture’s Robert Tapert states, “We started our careers independently producing our horror films and understand the challenges of these filmmakers.”

Robin Scholes says, “Ghost House was very enthusiastic about the film. I think we’ve very lucky to have them managing the US release. They are specialists in horror and thriller films and know exactly how to market and place them in the US market”.

Ghost House Pictures’ recent US releases include box office hits Boogeyman and The Grudge. Like those movies, The Tattooist will be released in North America via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The North American deal was negotiated by NZ Film, the sales arm of the New Zealand Film Commission.

The first market screenings of the film are at AFM this week.

The Tattooist is a supernatural thriller top-lined by Jason Behr (D-War; Skinwalkers; The Grudge) and Mia Blake (No 2). It also features David Fane, Robbie Magasiva, Caroline Cheong, Nathaniel Lees and Michael Hurst.

The story centres on Samoan spiritual beliefs and was shot on locations in New Zealand and Singapore. American tattoo artist Jake Sawyer (Jason Behr) wanders the world, exploring and exploiting ethnic themes in his tattoo designs. In a thoughtless act he unwittingly unleashes a powerful and angry spirit. In a devastating journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina (Mia Blake) and recover his own soul.

The Tattooist is an official New Zealand/Singapore co-production between Eyeworks Touchdown and MediaCorp Raintree Pictures.

The film was executive produced by Julie Christie, Daniel Yun, James Dean and Paul Davis. Screenwriters are Matthew Grainger & Jonathan King (Black Sheep) based on an idea by Vela Manusaute. Co-producers are Ng San San and Chan Pui Yin.

International sales are being handled by NZ Film.