Last night, the MPAA joined the New Zealand Embassy and Broad Green Pictures to co-host an educational presentation and screening of James Napier Robertson’s “The Dark Horse” in Washington, D.C. The event showcased New Zealand’s homegrown creativity and talent, while providing a forum to discuss the value of partnerships between the American and New Zealand film communities.
“The Dark Horse” is based on the true story of Genesis Potini, a brilliant chess champion struggling with mental illness who searches for purpose and finds it in passing on his gift to children in his community. The Maori people, a unique culture that holds its roots in New Zealand, are a key focus of the film, giving audiences a glimpse into their lives.
New Zealand Ambassador Tim Groser delivered opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of film in his home country and around the world. “At the most simple level it’s entertainment,” stated Ambassador Groser. “But I think film also plays a part in developing our own cultural identity.”
MPAA’s Anissa Brennan, Senior Vice President, International Affairs and Trade Policy, also touted New Zealand’s local film sector, adding “New Zealand is a global hub for filmmaking with an exceptional reputation. It’s a desired film location both for its dramatic beauty and its domestic talent pool.”
Following the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A moderated by Ted Robbins of NPR with writer/director James Napier Robertson, who won Best Director at the 2014 New Zealand Festival, where “The Dark Horse” also took home awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score.
“Authenticity was so crucial when telling this story,” said Robertson, while discussing the thoughtful and tireless preparation that went into making “The Dark Horse,” including countless hours conversing with the real-life Potini.
This is not the first time the MPAA and the New Zealand Embassy have held a screening together. In 2014, they partnered to co-host a special screening of “Upstream.”
“The Dark Horse” made its U.S. theatrical debut on April 1st.
Featured Image: Writer/Director James Napier Robertson discusses “The Dark Horse” with NPR’s Ted Robbins. Photo Credit: Joy Asico.