In a hot river (Kerosene Creek), running through a deep forest a group of teenagers party. One couple (Wiki and Sonny Boy) bring their younger siblings, Jayde and Mu who are best mates. It’s a volatile and incendiary mix - like kerosene itself.
It starts off a day like many others. But what they see, and what happens in that place of heat and steam will change everything - forever. Through the three day funeral, Jayde must face farewelling Mu with their secret intact.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES - Michael Bennett
“Making Kerosene Creek was both a great honour and a significant challenge for me. As a Māori writer and director, this film provided a unique opportunity to explore one of the most significant foundations of Māori custom, the tangi, the profoundly cathartic rites of tribute and farewell to the Dead. But on another level, the film is an exploration of Life – of that unique moment between childhood and adulthood, between innocence and sexuality, when a realm of exciting and confusing possibilities is opening before a young person’s eyes.
The title of the film comes from a natural hot river running through a forest in my tribal home area of Rotorua. As its name suggests, Kerosene Creek is a place of heat and steam where young people go to drink and laugh and party and make out. It’s a volatile mix -like kerosene itself. The other location in the film, Taheke marae, is also of great significance, being the spiritual home of grandmother’s sub-tribe, Ngati Hinerangi.
Very early on we decided to make this film ‘real’, which lead to a series of key decisions - from shooting in Kerosene Creek itself, to casting the juvenile leads from Rotorua who would have authentic accents and appearances, to filming the funeral sequences in a real meeting house alive with the history and spirits of its tribal past (to our best knowledge this is the first time a tangi has been recreated on an actual marae). I am proud that the film is all the more authentic because of these decisions.”