Kiwis hold centre-stage at film event

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2013

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The food was 100 per cent pure American - hot dogs smothered in mustard, and burgers, chased by icecream sandwiched between two cookies.

But there was more than a smattering of 100 per cent pure Kiwi accents mingling among the several-hundred-strong crowd gathered for a New Zealand film evening at Paramount Studios.

Among them were some better-known expats - including Once Were Warriors star Rena Owen, who spends her time between New Zealand and Los Angeles.

Owen said she had been writing a screenplay for Behind the Tattooed Face, a novel about pre-European Maori.

But she said she spent her first year in Los Angeles "hating the pollution, hating the traffic, hating all the Paris Hilton types".

"And I remember at the end of the first year thinking, you know, if you're going to just sit here and be negative ... then just go home. The city ain't going to change because you moved here."

The evening, organised by the New Zealand consulate in Los Angeles, showcased the Kiwi film industry and included a screening of short films including Taika Waititi's 18-minute Tama Tu.

The audience was a mix of expat Kiwis living and working in the film industry in LA, and representatives of Paramount Studios and LA Chamber of Commerce. The evening kicked off with the air force kapa haka group performing a welcome.

Vicki Jackways, of Film New Zealand, said such events were necessary to maintain relationships between Hollywood and New Zealand.

"Times change, the dollar goes up, the political climate changes, films are getting made differently and getting funded differently; the value is always going to be in relationships."

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- The Dominion Post

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