A movie filmed entirely in te reo Maori has been submitted for the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards.
Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands was selected by a committee comprised of the country's top artists in the film industry. It included Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, David Coulson, Ngila Dickson, John Toon and was chaired by New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson.
Making the announcement, Mr Gibson said The Dead Lands was a strong contender for next year's Oscars.
"Beautifully shot and deftly told, with an amazing cast of warriors, the film screened to appreciative audiences in Toronto, and will release theatrically in the UK and the US next year. The selection committee and the New Zealand Film Commission are very pleased to endorse The Dead Lands and we congratulate all the film-makers involved."
It's the fourth feature film by Fraser and stars James Rolleston (Boy, The Dark Horse), Lawrence Makoare (Die Another Day, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), Te Kohe Tuhaka (Sione's 2: Unfinished Business), George Henare (Once Were Warriors), Xavier Horan (Dean Spanley, The Dark Horse) and Rena Owen (Once Were Warriors).
After his tribe is slaughtered through treachery, Hongi (Rolleston) - a Maori chieftain's teenage son - must avenge his father's murder to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones. Vastly outnumbered by the band of villains, Hongi's only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious "Warrior", a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
The film has been described by Screen International as an "energetic, glossy and exciting New Zealand Maori action-adventure" and The Hollywood Reporter as "a sumptuously photographed coming-of-age tale fired by honour and revenge". International sales agent XYZ Films have closed deals with leading distributors in North America, Britain , France, Germany, Italy, Benelux, Turkey, China and the Middle East. Magnet Releasing will release the film in the United States.
• The Dead Lands is being widely released in New Zealand on October 30.