A television production about a Rotorua couple who fled the country with $10 million of stolen money, is a finalist for five international awards.

Kara Hurring and Leo Gao fast-tracked their way out of financial strife after receiving millions of dollars in a banking error in 2009.

Gao had asked for a $100,000 overdraft for his struggling Rotorua service station but a misplaced decimal point saw him mistakenly receive $10m instead.

Leo Gao and his girlfriend Kara Hurring, along with her 6-year-old daughter, fled New Zealand for a new life in China with $10m dollars of stolen money.


Their story captivated international media for two years and the hunt for New Zealand's most wanted couple gripped the nation and the world.

Telefeature Runaway Millionaires was independent New Zealand screen production company Fearless Productions' debut television project.

It has been named as a finalist across five categories at the 2020 New York Festivals Film & TV Awards - for TV Movie, best screenplay for writer Pip Hall, best performance by an actress for lead actress Jess Sayer, best direction for director Danny Mulheron and best camerawork for director of photography Rewa Harré.

"We are delighted to have our company's debut production honoured amongst the best of the best internationally," Carmen J. Leonard said in a press release today.

"These nominations are a testament to the hard work and talent of
our fantastic cast and crew."

Set against the backdrop of five-star hotels and hidden back alleys of mainland China, Runaway Millionaires screened on September 1 last year.

It was produced by Carmen J Leonard and Deb Cope and part of the telefeature was filmed in Rotorua.

About 40 people made up the base crew and there are 30 members of the cast.


The key cast included Jess Sayer as Kara Hurring, George Zhao as Leo Gao and Joel Tobeck as Mark Loper.

Runaway Millionaires was made with funding from NZ On Air.