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.

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Rain of the Children Feature Film wins Grand Prix in Poland

30 07 2008

Vincent Ward’s newest feature film Rain of the Children has won the Grand Prix at a film festival in Poland.

His film was one of 16 features selected for competition at the Era New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw which is Europe’s biggest film events, screening 360 films.

The prize is selected by audience vote.

Ward, who was in Poland as a guest of the festival, said he hadn’t expected the award and was delighted with the audience response.

The Wroclaw festival also presented a retrospective of Ward’s work (nine films), one of the few occasions when the complete work of a New Zealand film maker has been acknowledged internationally.

The festival also celebrated other New Zealand talent, screening 19 other New Zealand features, 45 New Zealand short films and bringing New Zealand musicians, a choreographer, photographer, actor and nine film makers to Poland.

Ward noted: “There is tremendous interest in and appreciation of our films and music, creating a fantastic atmosphere at the Festival.

“Afterwards many Poles commented that they want to visit New Zealand.”

Rain of the Children has just completed New Zealand premiere screenings in the Auckland and Wellington Film Festivals, and is to screen in the other New Zealand film festivals before beginning a theatrical release via Rialto Distribution.

Reviewed in the Hollywood Reporter, it has been acclaimed as “a stunning docu-drama … masterful … compelling in its personal detail and almost mythic in its sweep.”

The film was produced by Vincent Ward, Marg Slater and Tainui Stephens, and written by Vincent Ward. Investment came from the New Zealand Film Commission, Te Mangai Paho and NZ On Air.

International sales are being handled by NZ Film, the NZFC’s sales agency.