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August 2012, arsenal cinema

Cinema Storytelling from New Zealand

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE, 1990

New Zealand / Aotearoa is the guest of honor at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, appearing under the motto "He moemoeā he ohorere / While you were sleeping". In order to present the country's cultural diversity across various different forms of expression, the "Cinema Storytelling from New Zealand" series will be touring through six German cities from the end of August, starting in Berlin. The program has been curated by Maryanne Redpath (the Berlin Film Festival delegate for New Zealand, amongst other things) and includes literary adaptations, modern classics, visually stunning Maori stories and tragic heroes with irresistible Kiwi humour.

AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE (Jane Campion, 1990, August 25, introduction by Maryanne Redpath) A film that brings together three extraordinary New Zealand artists: writer Janet Frame, whose autobiographical works form the literary basis for the film, actress Kerry Fox in her first leading role and director Jane Campion. The film avoids reducing Frame's life to her lengthy, traumatic treatment at a psychiatric clinic following a false diagnosis and depicts artistic self-discovery and the writing process as a form of self-liberation in unhurried fashion.

WHALE RIDER (Niki Caro, 2002, August 28) is based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera, one of the country's most important Maori writers. The book and film focus on twelve-year-old Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who as the first-born child seeks her place amongst the traditions of her people.

Primarily known for darkly humorous splatter at the start of his career, Peter Jackson radically changed his narrative tone with HEAVENLY CREATURES (1994, August 28). He wrote the screenplay with his wife Fran Walsh and filmed it with the largely unknown actresses Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey. His decision to place the young women's friendship at the centre of the film is notable, with its catastrophe conclusion all the more disturbing due to the sensitive visual language employed. APHRODITE'S FARM (Adam Strange, 2008, August 28) will be shown beforehand and convinces due to its absurd, fairy-tale mixture of styles, proving a nimble point of entry into an increasingly surreal portrait of New Zealand.

IN MY FATHER'S DEN (Brad McGann, 2004, August 29) is based on the book of the same name by Maurice Gee, although McGann's free interpretation makes some radical changes.  Small-town New Zealand, dark family secrets and the temptations of the world outside are the central themes of his first and tragically last directorial work.  

The series concludes with different perspectives on the life and everyday existence of the New Zealand Maori. Taika Waititi's BOY (2010, August 31) impresses due to the playful treatment of its subject and its obvious artistic power. Waititi wrote the script, directed and played the adult lead in this coming of age story. Since BOY, Waititi has been regarded as one of the most talented young voices in New Zealand contemporary cinema. The short film TAMA TU (2004, August 31), which will be shown before the feature, is a further example of Waititi's ability to generate humor from seemingly bleak situations. 

ONCE WERE WARRIORS (Lee Tamahori, 1994, August 31) was a risky project that ended up an overwhelming international success. Tamahori adapted Alan Duff’s first novel and combined unflinching social realism with rapid cuts and rap music.  Subjects such as alcoholism, domestic violence and gang criminality in urban Maori slums were explored in film for the first time. (Julia Fidel)

Financed by the New Zealand Film Commission and supported by the filmmakers and German distributors, who gave their approval for the screenings.