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New Zealand films will be in the spotlight at the Beijing International Film Festival with What We Do In the Shadows, Housebound, Slow West, Mt. Zion and Giselle selected to screen in the Festival’s Panorama section.  The festival runs from April 17th – 20th.

What We Do In The Shadows, a vampire mockumentary co-written and directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, enjoyed success on the international film festival circuit after premiering at Sundance in 2014.  The film was New Zealand’s number one NZ film at the local box office for 2014 taking over $2.5m, and is in its 8th week of theatrical release in the US, with a current box office of $2,7 million. Produced by Waititi, Chelsea Winstanley and Emanuel Michael the film received post production funding from the NZFC. Housebound, written and directed by Gerard Johnstone and produced by Luke Sharpe and Anthony Timpson, premiered at SXSW in 2014.  The film was funded by the New Zealand Film Commission’s Escalator programme which supported emerging filmmakers wanting to make films with budgets of around $250 000.  Housebound is being re-made by New Line with Johnstone, retained as executive producer. New Zealand/UK co-production, Slow West premiered in February at the Sundance Film Festival and received the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic. Written and directed by Scottish bornJohn Maclean and produced for New Zealand by Rachel Gardner for See-Saw Films, Slow West is set at the end of the nineteenth century andfollows the journey across the American frontier of young Jay Cavendish who is searching for the woman he loves. Along the way, he is joined by Silas, a mysterious traveller, and hotly pursued by an outlaw. Filmed mainly on location in the MacKenzie country in New Zealand’s South Island, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi Smit-McPhee.  Slow West was made with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission and Film 4. Mt. Zion topped the New Zealand box office in its opening weekend and took nearly $1.3million at New Zealand cinemas when it released in 2014.  Written and directed by Te Arepa Kahi and produced by Quinton Hita, the film stars Stan Walker and Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors, River QueenWhat Becomes of the Broken Hearted). Mt. Zion tells the story of Turei and his family. Turei’s dream is for his band to support Bob Marley on his 1979 tour. To follow his dream, Turei is forced to challenge his family’s traditions and values, especially those of his traditionalist father. Giselle is a collaboration between the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB). Gillian Murphy, Prima Ballerina and star of the American Ballet Theatre, dances the role of Giselle with acclaimed Chinese/New Zealand dancer Qi Huan playing Albrecht, giving a performance which has gathered him critical acclaim around the world. The film was produced by Matthew Metcalfe and Ethan Stiefel, RNZB Artistic Director.  Johan Kobborg, internationally acclaimed Principal Dancer of London’s Royal Ballet, co-choreographed the ballet. The 5th Beijing International Film Festival runs from 17th to 20th April and is held in cinemas around Beijing.  Founded in 2011, the Beijing International Film Festival has become the biggest film industry event in mainland China and attracts large numbers of international directors, producers and studio heads.  Notable guests in previous years have included Jim Cameron, Luc Besson and Wolfgang Peterson.  With the explosion of the Chinese box office in the past decades, the festival provides a high-profile forum for those seeking to partner in co-productions with China. —  ]]>