'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' And Seven Other Stunning New Zealand Films You Should Know About

Sam Neill stars in Taika Waititi's hit film.

Famous for its national rugby team, its indigenous Maori culture and picturesque landscape, New Zealand certainly brings a fair few ‘bests’ to the table. The stunning country is also home to some notable individuals such as Sir Edmund Hilary - the first person to conquer Mount Everest, and Ernest Rutherford - the creator of modern atomic physics and forerunner of the nuclear age.

Aside from being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, responsible for some of the greatest exploratory and scientific minds, New Zealand has also produced some of the best and most original films.

In celebration of the release of Kiwi legend Taika Waititi’s new film, ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’, we look beyond ‘Lord of the Rings’ to celebrate some of the most stunning cinematography created on the other side of the world...

Boy – Taika Waititi (2010)
'Boy' is the second blockbuster from Taika Waititi. The story revolved around an imaginative 11-year-old, attempting to make sense of the world, while dealing with the return of his just-out-of-jail father. The coming of age comedy drama won in its section at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival and eclipsed previous records, topping box office receipts for the week, earning more on its opening day than any other previous NZ film, and became one of the most successful local releases on home soil. The film was shot in the Bay of Plenty area – an area where Waititi spent part of his childhood.
Goodbye Pork Pie – (1981)
Written and directed by George Murphy, 'Goodbye Pork Pie' was a low-budget smash. Using only 24 members of cast and crew, the film's overheads were minimal to the point where police cars doubled as crew vehicles and director Murphy performed some of the stunts himself. The story follows young rascal Gerry (Kelly Johnson) who hires a yellow mini in Kaitaia using a stolen driver’s license. A devastated John (Tony Barry) has just been left by his wife who has upped and moved to Invercargill. John needs to see his wife but has no form of transport. Together with the mini Gerry has named “Pork Pie” they hit the road together to travel the length of the country. The release of 'Goodbye Pork Pie' is considered to be one of the first films that made people stand up and take New Zealand filmmaking seriously. In 2016, filming began of a remake directed by Matt Murphy – son of Geoff, who directed the original.
Heavenly Creatures – Peter Jackson (1994)
Directed by 'Lord of the Rings' director Peter Jackson, this follows the true story of the notorious 1954 Parker-Hulme murder case in Christchurch, New Zealand. The film features Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet in their screen debuts, with strong supporting roles from Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison and Simon O’Connor. The film deals predominantly with the obsessive relationship between two teenage girls Pauline Parker (Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Winslet) who murder Parker’s mother. The film covers the time between the girls' meeting in 1952 and the murder in 1954. The film opened to strong reviews and critical acclaim at the 1994 51st Venice International Film Festival. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and put stars Winslet and Lynskey on the map.
Once Were Warriors – Lee Tamahori (1994)
Directed from the best-selling Alan Duff novel, 'Once Were Warriors' tells the story of the Hekes, an urban Maori family and their issues of poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence. Opening the eyes of cinema-goers around the globe, to unexamined aspects of New Zealand life, 'Once Were Warriors' exposed and evoked conversations about subjects that were never publicly acknowledged. Director Lee Tamahori depicted a hard-hitting adaptation of the 1990 novel, which was, and still remains NZ’s most watched local release.
Sleeping Dogs – Roger Donaldson (1977)
Based on the book 'Smith’s Dream' by C.K. Stead, 'Sleeping Dogs' was the first feature-length 33mm film produced entirely in New Zealand. Directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Sam Neill, Clyde Scott and Warren Oates, it was released back in 1977. Described as a political thriller with action elements, it follows the lead character Smith (Neill) at a time when New Zealand is plunging into a police state. A reclusive character, Smith is quickly drawn into a revolutionary struggle between right-wingers and guerillas. He becomes implicated in a murder and is framed as a revolutionary conspirator. The story unfolds as Smith tries to maintain an attitude of non-violence while being caught in-between opposing factions.
The Piano - Jane Campion (1993)
Jane Campion's Oscar-winning tale of sexual emancipation in the bush won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1993. Set during the mid-19th century, the film revolved around mute Ada’s passion for playing her piano and her efforts to regain her beloved instrument after it is sold. After travelling from Scotland to New Zealand for an arranged marriage, her husband sells her piano. Ada comes to a secret agreement with the buyer; she can win her piano back key by key by playing for him, as he acts out his desire for her. 'The Piano' was a success both critically and commercially, grossing $140 million worldwide against its $7 million budget.
The World’s Fastest Indian – Roger Donaldson (2005)
From Roger Donaldson, 'The World’s Fastest Indian' tells the true story of Burt Munro from Invercargill who set out to set the land speed record at the ripe old age of 68. Munro spent several decades building a modified classic Indian motorcycle, cheaply (using that famous Kiwi ingenuity), before heading to Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, to attempt to break the land speed record. Telling the tale of a funny old coot who sets out to become the world's fastest motorcyclist at an age when most of his contemporaries are settling into rocking chairs. Although starring Welsh-born Anthony Hopkins, 'The World’s Fastest Indian' went on to become of New Zealand's great classic films.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople – Taika Waititi (2016)
Ricky, a defiant young city kid, finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush after a series of misadventures befall the unlikely duo. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together in this heartfelt adventure. Based on the book 'Wild Pork and Watercress' by Barry Crump, the film is written and directed by famed indie auteur Taika Waititi ('What we do in the Shadows','Thor: Ragnarax') and stars Sam Neill ('The Daughter', 'Long Way Down') and introduces rising star Julian Dennison. Hunt for the 'Wilderpeople' is the highest-grossing locally-produced film of all time and smashed box office records for highest-grossing opening weekend and highest-grossing first week following its phenomenal reception at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ will be released in UK cinemas from 16 September 2016. Watch our exclusive clip below: