Toa Fraser’s THE DEAD LANDS is New Zealand’s submission for the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards.
Every year the Academy invites countries to select and submit their best foreign language film for consideration. Selection of the film must be made by a committee that includes esteemed artists from the country’s film industry. The New Zealand Oscar Selection Committee comprises Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, David Coulson, Ngila Dickson, John Toon and is chaired by NZFC CEO Dave Gibson.
Making the announcement, Gibson said “Filmed entirely in Te Reo, The Dead Lands is a strong contender for next year’s Oscars. Beautifully shot and deftly told, with an amazing cast of warriors, the film screened to appreciative audiences in Toronto, and will release theatrically in the UK and the US next year. The selection committee and the New Zealand Film Commission are very pleased to endorse The Dead Lands and we congratulate all the filmmakers involved.”
An UK/NZ co-production, The Dead Lands is the fourth feature film by Fraser (Dean Spanley, No. 2, Giselle) and his third collaboration with New Zealand producer Matthew Metcalfe (Dean Spanley, Beyond The Edge, Giselle) for General Film Corporation. The script was penned by Dunedin based writer, Glenn Standring (The Irrefutable Truth about Demons, Perfect Creature). The film was shot in Auckland and the central North Island of New Zealand with post-production in the UK.
The film stars James Rolleston (Boy, The Dark Horse), Lawrence Makoare (Die Another Day, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), Te Kohe Tuhaka (Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business), George Henare (Once Were Warriors), Xavier Horan (Dean Spanley,The Dark Horse) and Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors).
After his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery, Hongi (Rolleston) – a MÄori chieftain’s teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones. Vastly outnumbered by the band of villains, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious ‘Warrior’ a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
The film has been described by Screen International as an “energetic, glossy and exciting New Zealand Maori action-adventure” and The Hollywood Reporter as “a sumptuously photographed coming-of-age tale fired by honor and revenge.”
International sales agent XYZ Films have closed deals with leading distributors in North America, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Benelux, Turkey, China and the Middle East. Magnet Releasing will release the film in the US.
The Dead Lands is being widely released in New Zealand on 30 October, by Transmission Films.