New Zealand writer-director Toa Fraser's film of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's acclaimed production of Giselle will have its world premiere in the opening weekend of the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland in July.
Giselle, filmed during the company's New Zealand and China tours last year, features RNZB principal guest artist and American Ballet Theatre star Gillian Murphy in the title role and New Zealand/Chinese dancer Qi Huan as Albrecht, the nobleman who wins her love then deceives her, causing Giselle to die of a broken heart. Live performances were filmed over two nights at the Aotea Centre in Auckland, with further filming at the St James in Wellington and in Shanghai.
Giselle's choreography was created by RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel and Royal Ballet principal dancer Johan Kobborg. The film is a collaboration between the ballet company and the New Zealand Film Commission, with cinematographer Leon Narbey (Whale Rider, Dean Spanley) overseeing its "beautiful and entrancing" interpretation, according to NZFC chief executive Graeme Mason. Herald dance reviewer Bernadette Rae described Giselle's opening-night performance in Auckland as "a tight and gripping recounting of a poetic tale ... delivering great characterisations and superb dancing".
Giselle debuts at the NZIFF at the Civic on July 20, with New Zealand and Australian cinema releases by Rialto Distribution.