New Zealand Film Festival 2008
It is with great pleasure the New Zealand International Film Festivals announce that Vincent Ward’s new feature film Rain of the Children will have its New Zealand premiere in the Auckland Film Festival at the glorious Civic Theatre in July.
The new feature will then screen at the Wellington Film Festival and the 14 other New Zealand film festivals around the country.
The screenings will follow the film’s world premiere next month at the Sydney Film Festival where it is one of 12 films included in their first Official Competition. Sydney Film Festival director Clare Stewart has written that the film is “deeply personal and incredibly moving” with “magnificently re-created historical sequences featuring Rena Owen among a superb cast of Maori actors.”
Rain of the Children uncovers the story of the Tuhoe woman who was the subject of Ward’s In Spring One Plants Alone, which he made fresh out of art school at the age of 21.
“There could be no more appropriate occasion to welcome Vincent back to the Film Festivals”, says festival director Bill Gosden. “The last film of Vincent’s to premiere with us was in fact In Spring One Plants Alone in 1980.”
In Spring One Plants Alone was about the day-to-day life of 80-year-old Puhi who lived in a remote part of T?hoe country in the Urewera Ranges looking after her 40-year-old son Niki, who had schizophrenia. Ward lived with Puhi for 18 months and during this time became her “mokopuna m?”, her white grandson.
In Rain of the Children Ward sets out to unravel the mystery hidden at the heart of his earlier film: “People said that she [Puhi] walked in two worlds, the living and the dead. But gradually I began to understand that the personal dramas in her past were the key to understanding who she had become”, says Ward.
Through Ward’s eyes we learn the extraordinary details of Puhi’s life. She was the daughter-in-law of the great Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana who chose her at the age of 12 to marry his son Whatu. She escaped from a 1916 police raid and gave birth in the bush to the first of her 14 children. After many tragedies, she was left with only one of them.
Interviews with Tuhoe elders and Puhi’s descendants are interspersed with striking archival photos and dramatised sequences filmed in Tuhoe locations (Maungapohatu, Waimana and Ruatahuna) with a largely Tuhoe cast – virtually all of them related to Puhi. Miriama Rangi, Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison also star. Ward narrates and features in the film which gives us insight into his unique relationship with the enigmatic character of Puhi.
Rain of the Children will be premiering at the 40th Auckland International Film Festival on July 12 and the Wellington Film Festival on July 19, with the 14 other New Zealand International Film Festivals to follow.
Stay tuned for more Film Festival news.