New Zealand director Taika Waititi's feature film Boy premiered to a sell out audience at the opening of the Sundance Film Festival in Utah at the weekend.

Boy was among 14 films selected from more than 1000 submitted for Sundance's World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

Inspired by Waititi's Oscar nominated short Two Cars, One Night, Boy is a heartfelt coming-of-age tale about heroes, magic and Michael Jackson.

Written and directed by Waititi, the film was shot in his childhood home town of Waihau Bay on the East Coast.

The film was the debut feature for leading young actor James Rolleston who was given a standing ovation when he joined Waititi at the end of the screening.

Early reviews from US media said the film "marked a new step up in maturity for the New Zealand director" and "Boy succeeds as both an ode to childhood and a lament about growing up."

The film will screen five more times at the festival which ends on January 31. The film will then screen in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.