HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE – Sundance ’16 Review

primary_hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-sundance-2016Courtesy of the Sundance Institute

Born and raised in New Zealand, Taika Waititi is easily considered to be one of the greatest New Zealand directors in film history. With a background in comedy, Waititi broke into the film industry with his 2003 short film Two Cars, One Night, for which he received an Academy Award nomination (he pretended to fall asleep while the nominations were being read). Waititi continued his film success with his 2010 feature film, Boy, a coming of age comedy-drama about a young boy caring for his siblings until his imprisoned father reenters his life. Boy was a nominated for the Grand Jury prize at Sundance in 2010, and once again, Waititi introduces another film which is bound to attract the praise of critics.

I had the privilege to watch a morning screening of his newest film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, followed by a Q&A with several cast and crew members, including Mr. Waititi himself. The film, starring Julian Dennison as a “bad egg” and Sam Neill as his disgruntled foster uncle, depicts a national manhunt for the unlikely pair. The film revives Taika Waititi’s common theme of coming of age. The audience was bursting in laughter throughout it’s entirety, and the unique relationship between the film’s leads never grew tiresome.

The Q&A following the film began with various introductions, including Julian Dennison dancing onto the stage, and Taika Waititi removing his shoe. Unsurprisingly, the laughs during the Q&A sessions were nearly as plentiful as they came during the film itself. Waititi closed the session by describing his film as being “as if you cut a heart out of felt and filled it with… warmth.”

-Riley Miller, Unit Production Manager, BFF at Sundance

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