The Schmooze

Friday Film: Maori-Jewish Director Taika Waititi

It was the highest grossing film ever in New Zealand, was nominated for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury prize, and won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival that same year. Now, New Zealand director Taika Waititi’s “Boy” is making its New York premiere at the Angelika Film Center. Based on Waititi’s 2003 Academy Award nominated short film, “Two Cars, One Night,” “Boy” is a dramatic comedy set in 1984 in a community of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. The film follows the highly imaginative, Michael Jackson-obsessed “Boy” as he is reunited with his recently paroled father, played by Waititi.

Waititi, who is of mixed Maori and Russian-Jewish descent, filmed the movie on location in his hometown of Waihau Bay, New Zealand. This is his second movie, following the romantic comedy “Eagle vs. Shark” in 2007, which stars friend and fellow New Zealander Jermaine Clement, best known from “Flight of The Conchords.” The Arty Semite talked to the Kiwi director about growing up in New Zealand, his childhood idol Michael Jackson, and serving double duty as star and director of his own movie.

Laurie Kamens: What was it like filming where you grew up, in Waihau Bay?

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Friday Film: Maori-Jewish Director Taika Waititi

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