Three New Zealand Films to Screen at Toronto International Film Festival

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Two New Zealand feature films and one short film have been selected to screen at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TiFF).  Nic Gorman’s debut feature, Human Traces and anthology film, Waru, written and directed by nine Māori women will have their North American premieres in the Discovery section of the festival.  Short film, Waiting, written by Samuel Kamu and directed by Amberley Jo Aumua will screen in the festival’s Short Cuts section.

“We are extremely pleased that such distinctive films have been selected to screen in Toronto this year,” says NZFC CEO Dave Gibson. “Nic Gorman’s debut feature is a skillfully crafted thriller set in a place few people ever see.  And with Waru, there has not been a narrative feature film helmed by a Māori woman since Merata Mita’s Mauri in 1988.  Having a film made by nine wahine Māori screening in Toronto feels like a positive step toward addressing this with the opportunities the festival can provide for these filmmakers.”

Waru, produced by Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton, is a feature film made up of eight 10-minute short films around the tangi (funeral) of a small boy named Waru who died at the hands of his caregiver. Each vignette is written and directed by Māori women filmmakers, writer/ directors Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Chelsea Cohen and Paula Jones, director Awanui Simich-Pene and writer Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu.  All the filmmakers, except for Ainsley Gardiner who is in production, will be attending TiFF

Each of the eight vignettes was shot in a single day and tell their stories in a single, continuous shot in real time.

Waru was made with investment from Te Māngai Pāho, NZ On Air, Māori Television and the New Zealand Film Commission, and will be released in New Zealand by Vendetta Films.

Written and directed by Nic Gorman and produced by Nadia Maxwell, Human Traces is a psychological thriller, told from three points of view, and set on a remote, sub-Antarctic island. The film stars Sophie Henderson (Outrageous Fortune, Fantail, The Most Fun You Can Have Dying), Mark Mitchinson (The Hobbit, Siege, Bloodlines) and Vinnie Bennett (Fantail, Ghost in the Shell, Beyond the Known World). Mark Mitchinson and Vinnie Bennett will be in Toronto, with Vinnie an official TiFF 2017 Rising Star, and one of the next generation of actors poised for international success.

Human Traces will be released in New Zealand and Australia by eOne Films. International sales will be handled by Clay Epstein at Film Mode Entertainment with publicity by Lon Haber Inc.  Human Traces was made with investment from the New Zealand Film Commission and Random Films. 

Waiting, written by Samuel Kamu and directed by Amberly Jo Aumua, was made as a final project for Aumua’s bachelor of performance and screen arts degree at Auckland’s Unitech.  Set in South Auckland, the 12-minute film uses the brotherhood and friendship of two unrelated boys to shine a light on the hunger for family connections experienced by youngsters within Maori and Pacific communities.  Amberly Jo Aumua will attend Toronto to support the screenings of her short film.

The Toronto International Film Festival takes place annually in September and is one of the world’s leading public film festivals. It is universally regarded as an ideal platform for filmmakers to launch their careers and to premiere their new work. In 2017, TiFF runs 7-17 September.