The first film out of the blocks under the NZ-India co-production treaty, the Matt Horrocks & Kristian Eek-produced featured is set to begin shooting in India.
Lead cast include Sia Trokenheim (Step Dave, Everything We Loved) and Australian David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, Van Helsing, 300 and Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake). Wenham was a speaker at the second Big Screen Symposium last year.
screeNZ originally reported the Emily Barclay would also appear, but producers have now confirmed that Chelsie Preston Crayford has been cast. Wenham and Preston Crayford both appear in Australian mini-series The Code, which began screening over the weekend on the ABC.
The team has also cast French actress Emmanuelle Beart (Mission: Impossibleand a Berlinale winner for 8 Femmes) in one of the main supporting roles and new-comer Emily McKenzie.
Horrocks, a former NZFC development executive, was instrumental in conceiving and bringing into the world the Big Screen Symposium event. He has also recently produced Rene Naufahu’s The Last Saint.
Eek was line producer on Kirstin Marcon’s The Most Fun You Can Have Dying and Gregory King’s A Song of Good. His own short film Manurewa won a Crystal Bear at the Berlinale.
The script for Beyond the Known World is by Dianne Taylor, co-writer (with Shuchi Kothari) of Apron Strings. The film has been developed with the assistance of the NZFC, with most of its production financing from the NZFC and India’s equivalent organisation NFDC.
Conceived as a potential three-way co-production (with India and France) earlier in its development, the production also has on board producer and sales agent Ilann Girard (March of the Penguins, Goodbye Bafana, Lebanon). Paris-based Indian Pan Nalin, best-known internationally for 2002’s Samsara, will direct.
Like Beyond the Known World, the Toronto-premiered Samsara was primarily set and shot in the Himalayas. It won half a dozen prizes at international festivals including AFI, Durban, Melbourne and Santa Barbara.
The story of Beyond the Known World centres on a recently-divorced couple whose 19-year-old daughter goes missing in India. The film will shoot for five weeks in and around the Kullu and Parvati valleys in the Indian Himalayas, concluding with a week-long shoot back in New Zealand.
Steve McQuillan (The Dead Lands, Housebound, Beyond the Edge and the upcoming Make My Movie winner Deathgasm) is stunt co-ordinator.
In other India-NZ production news, Shankar’s upcoming Tamil title I (Beauty), on which Weta did make-up and prosthetic effects, readies for a major release at home and abroad at Diwali. This year, Diwali coincides with NZ’s Labour Day weekend.