Hunt for the Wilderpeople enjoys Kiwi premiere video

BEVAN READ/stuff.co.nz

The red carpet became green with the outback themed premiere for the 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' at Sylvia park.

Taika Waititi's long-awaited Hunt for the Wilderpeople enjoyed its Kiwi debut on Wednesday night, at Auckland's Hoyts Cinema in Sylvia Park.

The green carpet was rolled out as familiar faces from Kiwi television and film all showed up to celebrate in style.

Actors Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Michael Hurst, DJ P-Money, Stan Walker, Anika Moa, Dick Frizzell, Filthy Rich star Emma Fenton, Shortland Street cast members of past and present and a whole host of local celebrities were among some of the attendees on Wednesday night's 'Kiwi as' green carpet. 

"So far the film's reception has been amazing," said Waititi.

Sam Neill and Julian Dennison on the set of the Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
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Sam Neill and Julian Dennison on the set of the Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

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Taika Waititi talks Hunt for the Wilderpeople

 
New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi's latest film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is scheduled to be released in cinemas on ...
LAWRENCE SMITH

New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi's latest film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is scheduled to be released in cinemas on Thursday.

"Over at Sundance (Film Festival) and the few pre-screenings we've had here in New Zealand, it's been amazing. There's been a great audience response and good critical response, so we're pretty happy with it," he said. 

Waititi acknowledged the often daunting task of rendering a classic novel on the back screen and said he's definitely "made some changes" to the beloved 1986 classic.

"It's always really hard," he said.

Sam Neill and Julian Dennison  in the Taika Waititi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
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Sam Neill and Julian Dennison in the Taika Waititi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

"I sort of took all of the parts that I felt suited the medium of film the most, I also wanted to please the people who love my other films." 

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Waititi's Kiwi brand of comedy is something the director is most proud of and admits the rest of the world is steadily catching on to our sense of humour.

"Kiwi comedy is much more accepted now, especially overseas, because of Flight of the Conchords, they've definitely paved the way. 

Definitely in the last say, 10 years, we've seen this brand of New Zealand and Australian comedy delivered to international audiences." 

Wilderpeople is based on the classic Kiwi novel by Barry Crump, Wild Pork and Watercress.

The 1986 novel is something that Crump's son Martin is also incredibly proud of.

"Dad would be overwhelmed, as you can tell, what a fantastic turn out," he said of the premiere's star-studded green carpet. 

"There's a very good reason the authors are kept out of the movie business," Crump said. 

"You start to get a bit precious about the name and the title. I thought if Taika could bring that relationship between that little boy and that older guy to the screen and capture the chemistry, it will be good."

"I've seen nine minutes of it," he said. "That's all I've seen, so I'm really looking forward to the movie tonight, I've got a lot of my family here with me so we'll go see it for the first time together."

"But thank goodness for Taika, what a machine he is to get this off the ground. He took it with both hands." 

The film's lead, 13-year-old Wellington-born newcomer Julian Dennison, said it was a great "learning experience" working with industry heavy-hitters like Waititi and Neill.

"It's been great hanging out with all of the cast, we're like a family, a whanau," he said.

"Just hanging out with the crew, it's been great learning from them and working with them."

In the film Dennison plays Ricky - a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle Hec, played by Neill.

"I'd worked with Taika a few years ago and Sam is such a big actor, just being around such a great actor who was there supporting me has been really cool," he said. 

When asked what's next for the confident teen, Dennison said: "If my mum's standing next to me, then it's definitely school, I better say school. Getting some stuff in the hard drive up there." 

"I'm most proud of seeing everyone's hard work. Every time we see a scene, we know the back story of how that happened, just seeing everyone (realise) that all of their hard work was put into such a great movie."

For veteran Neill, the homecoming was half the appeal. 

"We had a ball, it's very exciting to be here with this crowd and this atmosphere and I think people are going to love it," he said. 

"This is a return to all those movies that we made all those years ago, films like Smash Palace and Sleeping Dogs, Goodbye Pork Pie, it's a tribute to those films so there is this sense of nostalgia," said Neill. 

"We've only showed the film at Sundance Film Festival and we got a standing ovation, so it doesn't get much better than that."

Hunt for the Wilderpeople opens in cinemas across New Zealand on Thursday, March 31.

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