Three New Zealand films will premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale). Tusi Tamasese’s One Thousand Ropes and Jackie van Beek’s The Inland Road will have world premieres at the festival, and Tearepa Kahi’s Poi E: The Story of Our Song will have its international premiere.
Congratulating the filmmakers, New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) CEO Dave Gibson said, “Berlin is an important festival for New Zealand, giving us an opportunity to introduce our voices and stories to a European audience. It’s also an invaluable experience for the filmmakers to watch their films on the big screen with an international audience.”
One Thousand Ropes, written and directed by Tusi Tamasese and produced by Catherine Fitzgerald will have its world premiere in the festival’s Panorama section as a Panorama Special. This is the first New Zealand film to be selected for Panorama since No. 2 in 2006, and only the third New Zealand feature ever to have screened in the section. Panorama showcases new films by renowned directors, debut films and new discoveries. Traditionally, auteur films – movies with an individual signature – form the heart of the programme.
Tusi Tamasese said, “It is a great honour to be selected in Panorama Special for the world premiere of our film, and thrilling to be returning to Berlin, where I attended the Talent Campus in 2010, and where The Orator screened in 2013.”
Written and directed by Jackie van Beek and produced by Aaron Watson, The Inland Road, will have its world premiere in the Festival’s Generation14+ section. The Inland Road is Jackie van Beek’s debut feature, following successful short film, Go the Dogs which screened at the 2011 Berlinale.
“Making this film has been such a huge joy, challenge and education for me. We have a great team behind this project and we're all very excited to have The Inland Road premiere at such a wonderful festival,” said Jackie van Beek.
Poi E: The Story of Our Song will join The Inland Road in the Generation 14+ section for its international premiere. Directed and executive produced by Tearepa Kahi and produced by Alexander Behse and Reikura Kahi, the film is Kahi’s second feature following 2014’s Mt Zion. Poi E had its world premiere in July 2016 as the opening night film at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Released in Australia and New Zealand in late 2016 by Sony Pictures, the film took over $1.2 million dollars at the New Zealand box office, making it one of the top five New Zealand documentaries of all time.
"Sharing the story of our Pātea community, our reo, our waiata and our original B-boy with Berlin is something Dalvanius would be very proud of. He spent time in Berlin, so it seems we’re retracing his footsteps, and who knows how many others may join in on the chorus," said Tearepa Kahi.
One Thousand Ropes tells the story of a father re-connecting with his youngest daughter and putting to rest the ghosts that haunt them. A former boxer, Maea now uses his hands to knead bread and to ease the pain of child-bearing. When his youngest daughter returns to him, beaten and heavily pregnant, he struggles on the one hand with inner temptation and encouragement from the men in his life to take revenge in the way he knows best, and on the other, to build the new family and companionship missing from his life.
One Thousand Ropes is Tusi Tamasese’s follow up to his much-awarded feature debut, The Orator, and stars Uelese Petaia, Frankie Adams, Beulah Koale and Sima Urale. One Thousand Ropes is funded by the NZFC and Fulcrum Media Finance. World sales are being handled by Mongrel Media. One Thousand Ropes will be released in New Zealand and Samoa on 23 March by Transmission Films.
The Inland Road explores the unconventional love story between an anti-social teenager, a Scotsman and a five-year-old-girl. Tia hitches a ride on an isolated country road. When the car crashes with fatal consequences, Tia finds she has nowhere to go. Seeking out the family of the crash victim, Tia moves onto the farm of fellow survivor Will and his pregnant wife Donna. When Donna’s bereaved five-year-old niece Lily also comes to stay, Tia finds a purpose in helping the girl come to terms with her father’s death. But as Tia’s bonds with Will and Lily deepen, her presence threatens the family’s delicate balance.
Starring Gloria Popata, David Elliot, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Jodie Hillock and Georgia Spillane, the film is funded by the NZFC and private investors. International sales will be handled by Level K.
Poi E traces the story of a song, released in 1984, that has become New Zealand’s unofficial national anthem. The only song in Te Reo Māori to have reached number one on the charts, Poi E was composed by colourful and visionary musician, Dalvanius Prime and Māori language expert Ngoingoi Pēwhairangi, and performed by the Patea Māori Club. Through archival footage, interviews and home movies, the performers, supporters and creators of this iconic song are brought vividly to life.
Poi E was funded by the NZFC, Te Māngai Paho and NZ On Air.
The Berlinale takes place annually in February and is one of the world’s most important film festivals, screening up to 400 films each year, predominantly world or European premieres. New Zealand films which have screened at the Berlinale include Mahana, Born to Dance, Boy, The Weight of Elephants, and What We do in the Shadows.
The 2017 Berlinale runs 9-19 February.