New Zealand actor and film-maker Taika Waititi’s latest feature film, BOY, has been chosen for competition at the Sundance Film Festival - regarded as the premier US showcase for American and international independent film.
The movie, shot in Waititi’s childhood home town of Waihau Bay - in the remote East Coast region of the North Island - is a comedy-drama, coming-of-age tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson.
BOY was one of 14 films selected from 1,022 worldwide submissions for Sundance’s ‘World Cinema Dramatic’ category.
Waititi at Sundance
Taika Waititi - sometimes credited as Taika Cohen - is no stranger to Sundance.
His Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night (2004) and debut feature film Eagle vs Shark (2005) both premiered to acclaim at Sundance Film Festivals.
Waititi says it is very special to him to have BOY selected for the festival.
"I have a long connection with the Sundance Institute and Festival and to take this sunny East Coast New Zealand film to play in the snowy mountains of Park City, Utah is pretty awesome," Waititi said.
Written and directed by Waititi, BOY is set in the 1980’s. It began life under the working title The Volcano.
The movie explores some of the characters and ideas introduced in Two Cars, One Night and produces two new Kiwi stars - James Rolleston (11) from Opotiki, and Te Aho Eketone-Whitu (8) from the small town of Minginui, near Rotorua.
The two boys play brothers Boy and Rocky, who are trying to find their potential whilst living in the shadow of their larger-than-life father Alamein, played by Waititi.
Waititi said it had been a special experience shooting BOY, taking his story home and making it with friends and whanau (family).
"The kids were great in their auditions, but their performances on set were groundbreaking. Nothing went wrong; the universe conspired to make this the most stress-free shoot since River Queen," he said.