Toa Fraser scores a hat-trick with The Dead Lands, whose world premiere as a Special Presentation at the Toronto IFF in September marks the director’s third selection at the festival.
Māori action epic The Dead Lands is Fraser’s fourth feature. His debut feature No. 2 had its premiere at Sundance; both Dean Spanley and last year’s Giselle were selected to play TIFF. All three of his Toronto-selected features have been produced by Matthew Metcalfe, who also had Leanne Pooley’s Beyond the Edge screened in Toronto last year.
The Dead Lands is from a script by Glenn Standring (Perfect Creature, The Irrefutable Truth About Demons) and was produced by Matthew Metcalfe (Dean Spanley, Beyond The Edge, Giselle) for General Film Corporation. Standring is also credited as a producer, with Tainui Stephens (The Strength of Water, Rain of the Children, River Queen) and Lip Sync’s Norman Merry (Half of a Yellow Sun, Byzantium, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Made in Dagenham) named co-producers.
The film shot in Auckland and the central North Island, filming through last summer. At Hong Kong’s Filmart in March the film’s international sales agent, XYZ Films, told screeNZ how excited and impressed XYZ had been by the footage they’d seen. XYZ know a thing or two about the potential of indigenous martial arts films having recently rolled out The Raid 2.
The film is an official NZ/UK co-production, funded by the NZFC, the NZ Film Production Fund Trust, Te Mangai Paho, Images and Sound, the UK partners Day Tripper Films and Lip Sync Productions.
Transmission Films has the ANZ rights and will release The Dead Lands in NZ on 30 October, Transmission’s Andrew Mackie said in a statement, “We were already huge fans of Toa Fraser having released Dean Spanley. The Dead Lands is an absolute crowd-pleaser.”
The Australian release date is currently TBC. The Dead Lands release dates in Canada and NZ qualify the film for consideration at the Brisbane-hosted Asia-Pacific Screen Awards, which run in early December and – as of this year – will screen selected titles much more prominently at Brisbane’s film festival, recently rebranded as the Brisbane Asia-Pacific Film Film Festival.
The Toronto IFF runs 4 – 14 September.