Set in 1984 and steeped in the American culture of that era—Michael Jackson, E.T.—Taika Waititi’s Boy is nevertheless a distinctly Kiwi movie, so much so that it’s become the highest-grossing local film ever in New Zealand since it debuted there in March 2010.
Two years later, it’s finally making its American theatrical debut at the Film Center this weekend. To celebrate, we’re excited to present a special sneak preview tonight featuring an in-depth conversation with Waititi (Eagle vs Shark), who not only wrote and directed the movie but also co-stars as its deadbeat-dreamer patriarch.
Based on Two Cars, One Night, Waititi's Oscar-nominated short from 2004, Boy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 in a competition slot and went on to huge box-office and critical success at home. The plot lovingly riffs on coming-of-age convention in a barren but beautiful rural Maori community where Boy, the nominal leader of his late mother’s brood, dreams of perfecting Michael's Thriller moves and securing a hickey from girls who pay him little attention. Things change when his man-child father (Waititi) returns from jail.
Waititi with young stars James Rolleston and Te Aho Aho Eketone-Whitu.
A breezy yet warm sensibility drives the movie more than the plot, giving it a boyish, expectant atmosphere. “It's hard to praise too highly the pitch-perfect tone of this movie,” the New Zealand Herald said when the film opened. “This is a very strong piece of work that will quickly become a classic.”
In addition to his Oscar nod, Waititi, a prolific and exceedingly talented artist, has won the top prizes in New Zealand both for comedy and film. The talk at the sneak preview tonight will span his entire career, including formative early experiences as one half of a comedy duo filled out by Flight of the Conchords frontman Jermaine Clement. Waititi will also be in person for short Q&As following screenings of Boy this Friday and Saturday at 5:30pm and Sunday at 3:30pm.