Berlin Festival stakes claim to our Boy

By Helen Barlow

James Rolleston in Boy. Photo / Supplied
James Rolleston in Boy. Photo / Supplied

Taika Waititi's Boy is still heading out into the world nearly a year after the start of its record-breaking New Zealand cinematic run. But right now the director-actor is on jury service - he's part of the Berlin Film Festival panel judging the youth-oriented Generation Kplus section where he won the best film prize last year for Boy.

"This is my first jury, I've judged other films and stuff and I've also made personal judgments on other films," he says. "It's really cool because I hardly get to see many films and here I'm watching four films a day. It's not coalmining, but it's hard work."

The Berlin Festival, which also screened his debut feature Eagle vs Shark , has welcomed him back and claimed him as one of their own.

"It's obviously nice to come back. It's a great city even if it's better in summer," he says, foggy-breathed from the German winter.

"I lived here for two years at the end of the 90s. I was painting and had a studio here.

That was what my life was before ... ."

Now he notes that Boy, which so far has been released only in New Zealand and Australia, is set for release in Sweden and Poland - "they love New Zealand films there; Scarfies and Eagle vs Shark released in Poland!" The film comes out in the US later in the year and Waititi will be based in Los Angeles for much of 2011.

"I never say I'm living in the States but I'll probably be there most of this year. I feel a bit weird about that."

Still, living in Los Angeles has its advantages. The day he arrived there after the Berlin Festival last year he was asked to audition for Green Lantern, the fantasy blockbuster (directed by expatriate New Zealander Martin Campbell) where he appears alongside Ryan Reynolds and Gossip Girl Blake Lively, who is a big fan of Flight of the Conchords and of Waititi in particular.

"I had to crowbar her off me at one stage," he quips. Temuera Morrison also appears in the film, which Waititi describes as a cool experience.

In Berlin he's using his down time to meet potential co-producer partners for future projects.

"I'm quite keen on exploring New Zealand and European co-productions because I might be working here at some point, so I'm trying to figure out how I might easily finance things."

While he recently directed the pilot for a US MTV remake of hit UK comedy The Inbetweeners, and is waiting to hear if the show will go ahead, Waititi has not decided if he will direct the series himself.

"Even if the show gets picked I don't have to commit to doing it just because I directed the pilot. I can decide on that later."

In the meantime, don't count on him walking along the Berlin Festival's red carpet.

"We went to True Grit on opening night but I ran around the back to go into the theatre," he confides. "I don't like hanging out with people who aren't my friends. I don't want to hang around with someone just because they're famous. It's just not my thing."

- NZ Herald

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