Written and directed by James Napier Robertson, The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of a charismatic, little-known New Zealand hero, Genesis Potini, played by Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, Boy). The film also stars James Rolleston (Boy), Kirk Torrance (Stickmen, Sione’s 2 – Unfinished Business), Xavier Horan (Dean Spanley), Miriama McDowell (Dean Spanley) and newcomer Wayne Hapi.

Once a heralded chess champion, Genesis has spent the last few years in and out of mental institutions, battling with severe bipolar disorder.  After being released from the psychiatric ward for one more chance at life, he moves in with Ariki, his gang-patched and distant brother (Hapi), and Ariki’s soon-to-be-patched teenage son, Mana (Rolleston).

Needing a purpose and a reason to get out of the gang house, Genesis joins a rough-as-guts local chess club, with the wild idea of coaching the motley crew of kids to the national chess championship.  On the way, Gen must face the responsibility that comes with being a leader, navigate conflict within the gang world and try to survive the potentially devastating strife that breaks out between him and his brother over his nephew’s future.

The Dark Horse opened the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland and Wellington and will have its international premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in September 2014.


Production Year: 
Production Company: 
Four Knights Film
2014- Toronto International Film Festival, 2014 New Zealand Film Awards - Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score; Audience Award for Best Film and the MovieZone Award at 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival, Runner Up for Best Film at the 2014 Palm Springs Film Festival, Best Actor for Cliff Curtis at the 2014 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Sales Agent: 
Seville International

New Zealand Film Classification System

Key Roles

Exec. Producer

Key Crew

Jim Marbrook
Line Producer
Judith Trye
Denson Baker
Production Designer
Kim Sinclair
Peter Roberts
Annie Collins