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Toronto International Film Festival Invites White Lies and Giselle

New Zealand will have three films screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival with the announcement last night that Dana Rotberg’s WHITE LIES and Toa Fraser’s GISELLE have been selected to screen in the Contemporary World Cinema programme of the Festival.

Image from Giselle is courtesy of the New Zealand Film Commision.

They join the previously announced Beyond The Edge 3D which is screening in the festival’s TIFF Docs programme.

Written and directed by Dana Rotberg, White Lies stars Antonia Prebble, Rachel House and marks the acting debut of New Zealand Māori recording artist Whirimako Black. 

Currently in release in New Zealand cinemas, White Lies is a powerful and intense film about the nature of identity: those who deny it and those who strive to protect it.  Paraiti (Whirimako Black) is the healer and midwife of her rural, tribal people – she believes in life.  But new laws are in force prohibiting unlicensed healers.  On a rare trip to the city, she is approached by Maraea (Rachel House), the servant of a wealthy woman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), who seeks her knowledge and assistance to hide a secret which could destroy Rebecca’s position in European settler society.  If the secret is uncovered a life may be lost, but hiding it may also have fatal consequences.  Paraiti, Maraea and Rebecca become players in a head-on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation.

White Lies is based on the novella Medicine Woman by prominent Māori author Witi Ihimaera, best known for his novel The Whale Rider, which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film also produced by White Lies co-producer John Barnett.  Whale Rider premiered at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, receiving the coveted People’s Choice Award.  Rotberg credits Whale Rider as her inspiration to move to New Zealand from her native Mexico.

Toa Fraser’s Giselle had its world premiere the opening weekend of the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland.  Fraser’s close collaboration with the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company’s acclaimed production of Giselle has resulted in a glorious film with a unique view of a much loved and romantic ballet.  Prima Ballerina, Gillian Murphy, RNZB Principal Guest Artist and star of the American Ballet Theatre, dances the role of Giselle with acclaimed Chinese/New Zealand dancer Qi Huan playing Albrecht.  Featuring a score performed by the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, the classic story of love, eroticism and death has been re-interpreted by Fraser to include both the on-stage performance of the ballet and an off-stage romance - interwoven with the ballet - that tells of two itinerant dancers, separated by time, distance and their abiding love for each other.

Giselle producer Mathew Metcalfe also produced Beyond The Edge 3D, selected to screen in the TIFF Docs section of this year’s festival.  Both film’s directors have ties with Toronto – Fraser’s feature film Dean Spanley (also produced by Metcalfe) had Gala screenings at the Festival in 2008; and Beyond The Edge 3D director Leanne Pooley's documentary The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls received the People’s Choice award for Best Documentary at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival.

“It is fantastic to have three such strong films selected for Toronto,” says New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive Graeme Mason.  “All are superbly executed films from talented filmmakers and combined they showcase New Zealand’s artistic talent, culture and history.”

White Lies is produced by John Barnett and Chris Hampson and funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air.  The film was made with the assistance of the New Zealand government’s Screen Production Incentive Fund.

Giselle is a collaboration between the New Zealand Film Commission and the Royal New Zealand Ballet with additional investment from Auckland’s Digi Film, and was produced by Matthew Metcalfe (Dean Spanley, Love Birds, Beyond The Edge 3D).  Rialto Distribution is releasing Giselle in New Zealand theatres this week on Thursday 15 August.


Updated on 23rd July 2015