Taika Waititi’s new film Hunt for the Wilderpeople, will premiere at the opening weekend of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in the prestigious Friday night slot at the Eccles Theatre.
Julian Dennison, the lead in Waititi’s NZTA short film and multi-award winning ad, Blazed, plays Ricky, the lead in Hunt For The Wilderpeople, alongside Hollywood actor and Peaky Blinders star Sam Neill as Ricky’s foster-Uncle Hec.
The duo evade child services and the law by going bush, where they must work together to survive despite their differences.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is Waititi’s dramatisation of Barry Crump’s 1986 novel, Wild Pork and Watercress and will be his fourth debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
Says Waititi: “The book is really engaging and I recommend it to everyone. It’s so entertaining, quite beautifully written and profound, with an unmistakeably Kiwi style.”
In an interview earlier in 2015, Waititi said the tone of the film was inspired by classic 1980s films of Kiwi directors like Roger Donaldson and Geoff Murphy, in which humour has a pivotal role.
“We want this to be a film for all ages, that families can go to. A film where there’s something for everyone. We want to spin a good yarn and have an adventure… start a resurgence of entertaining New Zealand films. Adventure films like Came a Hot Friday and Goodbye Pork Pie – films in which people are fighting against the system in a funny and touching way.”
Of Hunt for the Wilder people, Waititi says people will “fall in love with these underdog characters”.
“I don’t think Sam or Julian had ever spent much time in the bush before so when you see them in this film you’ll know they’re really acting.”
Hunt for the Wilderpeople will screen in Sundance’s “premieres” section.