// Presented as part of Filmatique's Visions from the South of the World Series //
Spotlight on Boy
Exclusive Essay: Taika Waititi's Uncanny Boy-scapes
Taika Waititi / 2010, Sundance, AFI Fest, Athens, Berlin, ImagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival, Istanbul, Melbourne, Stockholm, Sydney, Taipei / 88'
Summer, 1984. Eleven-year-old Boy lives with his grandmother and younger brother Rocky in Waihau Bay on New Zealand's eastern coast. Up to all sorts of antics and borderline-obsessed with Michael Jackson, Boy becomes the head of his household one day when his grandmother leaves town for a funeral. But soon his long-absent father rolls back into town, digging up the yard in search of a pile of cash he buried years prior. Adventure and excitement of Dad's return give way to disappointment, and Boy is left to grapple with the blissful state of childhood ignorance he will soon leave behind.
Playful and exuberant like its young protagonist, Boy teases forth notions of marginality, masculinity, and adulthood in New Zealand's Maori society. Taika Waititi's second feature film premiered at Sundance, Stockholm, Istanbul; Berlin, where it won the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix; AFI, where it won the Audience Award; Melbourne, where it won Most Popular Feature Film; Taipei, where it won a Special Mention; and Sydney, where it won the Audience Award.
"A whimsical and unique coming-of-age tale from New Zealand… Whereas many films depicting Maori culture focus on amoral bruisers or thugs, Waititi highlights the reality of the false machismo that he grew up with"
- John Lichman, Film Review, Indiewire