Tuhoe film premieres at Sydney festival
11 Jun 2008
A moving film that became a personal journey for award winning New Zealand director Vincent Ward has had its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival.
‘Rain of the Children’ is Ward’s sixth feature and the fourth he has made in New Zealand. The movie takes him back to the remote Urewera bush region in the North Island, home to the Tuhoe people and scene for his first award winning documentary 'In Spring One Plants Alone'. That documentary showed the extraordinary relationship between an 80-year-old Maori woman and her schizophrenic son, a story that continued to haunt Ward as he became an internationally acclaimed filmmaker.
Solving a mystery
Thirty years later he returned to the Ureweras having realised that 'In Spring' held clues to a mystery which he hadn’t solved. Why was the old woman called the burdened one? She had been the mother of 14 children, most of whom either died of disease or were taken from her. Was she an outcast? Was she cursed? Rain of the Children reveals details of the old woman’s life that give contemporary audiences a new window on New Zealand history.
Sydney Festival director Clare Stewart has described the film as "deeply personal and incredibly moving with magnificently re-created historical sequences featuring Rena Owen among a superb cast of Maori actors."
The cast also includes Temuera Morrison who has appeared in nine movies including The Piano and Once were Warriors.
Rain of the Children will have its New Zealand premiere at the Auckland and Wellington Film Festivals in July, followed by screenings at 14 other New Zealand international film festivals. In the same month it will screen at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, which will also present a retrospective of all Ward’s films.
The Urewera region where Rain of the Children was filmed has New Zealand’s fourth largest national park and is the ancestral home of the Tuhoe people. Legend traces the parentage of Tuhoe to Hine Pukohurangi (the mist maiden) and Te Maunga (the mountain) which is why Tuhoe are known as "children of the mist". The park protects the largest remaining area of native bush in New Zealand and encompasses Lake Waikaremoana a 250 metre deep lake formed by a landslide 2200 years ago. The track around the lake is one of New Zealand’s "Great Walks."
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