New Zealand films were in the spotlight over the weekend with The Dark Horse, Slow West and Turbo Kid all making a splash at international festivals.
The Dark Horse beat 159 other films to win the Audience Award at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam. It also won the Festival’s Youth Jury Prize. Written and directed by James Napier Robertson and produced by Tom Hern, The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of little-known New Zealand speed-chess champion Genesis Potini, played by Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider). These wins continue the film’s outstanding performance both in New Zealand and overseas.
The Dark Horse was supported by the New Zealand Film Commission, Arama Pictures, Southern Light Films, NZ On Air and the New Zealand Government's Screen Production Incentive Fund with financing by Fulcrum Media Finance. It was released in New Zealand by Transmission Films on 31 July 2014. World sales are being handled by Seville International.
At the Sundance Film Festival, Slow West won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic. A UK/New Zealand co-production, Slow West was written and directed by John Maclean and produced for New Zealand by Rachel Gardner for See-Saw Films and for the UK by DMC Film. Set at the end of the nineteenth century, the film follows the journey across the American frontier of young Jay Cavendish who is searching for the woman he loves. Along the way, he is joined by Silas, a mysterious traveller, and hotly pursued by an outlaw. Filmed mainly on location in the MacKenzie country of the South Island of New Zealand, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi Smit-McPhee. The film held its World Premiere at Sundance.
Slow West was made with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission and Film 4. World sales for the film are being handled by Hanway Films. A24 and DirecTV have bought all US rights for the film.
Turbo Kid, which also premiered at Sundance, has been generating a lot of buzz with it being named one of the top films to screen at the US festival. Written and directed by Canada’s Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell, and produced by Ant Timpson and Tim Riley for New Zealand and Benoit Beaulieu and Anne-Marie Gélinas for Canada, Turbo Kid is an official Canada/New Zealand co-production. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the film is a BMX-powered, blood-splattered love story that follows the epic journey of an orphaned outcast reluctant to be a hero in the wasteland of an alternate future.
Turbo Kid is financed by Telefilm Canada, the New Zealand Film Commission, the Quebec Provincial Tax Credit Program, the Canadian Tax Credit Program and Alchemy 24, and collaborators Cinepool, Departement Camera and Curious Films. The film will be distributed in Canada by Raven Banner and in Quebec by Filmoption International. Epic Picture Group is representing world sales outside of Australia, New Zealand and Canada at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.