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The Dark Horse to Open New Zealand International Film Festival

Local films about double lives, speed chess champions, Israeli politics and climate change have made the cut for this year's New Zealand International Film Festival. Thirteen Kiwi films being showcased, including The Dark Horse which will kick off the two-and-a-half week event.

By Karina Abadia
June 12, 2014
By Karina Abadia
June 12, 2014

The festival which brings us the year's best art house films is nearly here. Local productions about double lives, speed chess champions, Israeli politics and climate change have all made the cut for this year's New Zealand International Film Festival 2014. All up there are thirteen Kiwi films being showcased, including The Dark Horse which kicks off the two-and-a-half week event.

Starring Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Whalerider) and James Rolleston (Boy) and directed by James Napier Robertson, The Dark Horse is a true story based on the life of a charismatic, brilliant but little-known New Zealand hero and chess champion Genesis Potini, nicknamed Gen.

The other Kiwi films in the soon to be released programme are:

Aunty and the Star People

(World Premiere) | Director: Gerard Smyth

Writer Jean Watson is an anonymous elderly woman living in a modest Wellington flat. In southern India she is revered as the famous ‘Jean Aunty’. Gerard Smyth’s documentary explores her fascinating double life.

Cap Bocage

(World Premiere) | Director: Jim Marbrook

Jim Marbrook, director of Mental Notes and the original Dark Horse documentary, takes us inside the long environmental campaign that followed the pollution of traditional Kanak fishing grounds in New Caledonia in 2008.


(World Premiere) | Director: Gavin Hipkins

For his first feature-length film the widely exhibited New Zealand photographer Gavin Hipkins invests a richly pictorial essay with the 21st-century resonance of Samuel Butler’s lively utopian satire Erewhon, written in 1872.

Everything We Loved

Director: Max Currie

A man, a woman and a four-year-old boy retreat to a house outside town. What are they hiding from? Debut writer and director Max Currie staggers the revelations to dramatic effect in this suspenseful psychological drama.

Hot Air

(World Premiere) | Dir Alister Barry, Abi King-Jones

In the years since New Zealand politicians began to grapple with climate change our carbon emissions have burgeoned. Alister Barry’s documentary draws on TV archives and interviews with key players to find out why.


Director: Gerard Johnstone

Welcome home to the Kiwi horror house comedy that took SXSW by storm. Gerard Johnstone’s brilliant genre mash-up stars Rima Te Wiata, Morgana O’Reilly, Glen-Paul Waru and Cameron Rhodes.

Voices of the Land Nga Reo o te Whenua

(World Premiere) | Director: Paul Wolffram

Paul Wolffram’s fascinating and eloquent documentary about Maori instrumental traditions accompanies Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo as they perform in a series of remarkable South Island wilderness settings.

Notes to Eternity

(World Premiere) | Director: Sarah Cordery

Renowned critics of Israeli policies Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Sara Roy and Robert Fisk give personal substance and historical perspective to their arguments in this impressive film by New Zealander Sarah Cordery.

Orphans and Kingdoms

(World Premiere) | Director Paolo Rotondo

In writer and director Paolo Rotondo’s debut feature three homeless teenagers break into a luxury Waiheke Island home and find themselves caught in a tense psychodrama with the conflicted owner.


(World Premiere) | Director Jonathan King

An up-and-coming media executive has good reason to question the very facts of his existence in this micro-budget sci-fi chiller from director Jonathan King (Black Sheep, Under the Mountain) and novelist Chad Taylor.

Te Awa Tupua: Voices from the River

(World Premiere) | Director Paora Joseph

This beautiful new film from the director of Tatarakihi honours the power and poetry in the stories of Whanganui iwi, past and present, and their longstanding struggle to reclaim guardianship over their ancestral river.


(World Premiere) | Director Susy Pointon

Many roads lead to the Hokianga in this engaging documentary portrait of several generations of inhabitants: local iwi, long-established farming families, and the alternative lifestylers of the 60s and 70s who put down roots and stayed.

* NZIFF will take place in Auckland from  July 17 to August 3 and Wellington from July 25 to August 10.

Published on June 12, 2014 by Karina Abadia


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