Red carpet rolled out for Sleeping Dogs

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Three decades of NZ feature filmmaking will be celebrated at the NZ Film Archive in Wellington on 6 October with a special gala screening of Sleeping Dogs. After mounting an extensive search around…

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Three decades of NZ feature filmmaking will be celebrated at the NZ Film Archive in Wellington on 6 October with a special gala screening of Sleeping Dogs. After mounting an extensive search around the country for the film's cast and crew, the Film Archive is ready to roll out the red carpet for the talented Kiwis who helped take NZ filmmaking to the world.

Image: The 1977 political thriller is credited with launching the career of actor Sam Neill.Three decades of NZ feature filmmaking will be celebrated at the NZ Film Archive in Wellington on 6 October with a special gala screening of Sleeping Dogs. After mounting an extensive search around the country for the film's cast and crew, the Film Archive is ready to roll out the red carpet for the talented Kiwis who helped take NZ filmmaking to the world.

Image: The 1977 political thriller is credited with launching the career of actor Sam Neill.Sleeping Dogs was the first NZ feature to be released in the United States, was highly successful in the Soviet Union and is credited with being the leading driver for the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission.

"It's been an exceptional task tracking people down around the country and overseas," says NZ Film Archive Publicist Anna Dean. "After putting out a search call a month ago we've have been talking to everyone from Iroquois helicopter pilots, the catering team who picked fresh puha and stole the occasional pumpkin, to runners who were 16 at the time. We've had farm owners in the Coromandel sharing stories of their farms being blasted by bombs and flame-throwers and have heard quite an exceptional number of comments about the partying that went on at the time."

"While we haven't managed to track everyone down - if anyone knows of the whereabouts of stuntman Jerry Popov we'd be fascinated to hear where he is now - we have connected a few old friends who had lost contact, which has been a nice surprise."

A display of costumes and props, as well as some of the original design sketches for the iconic posters, will be on display at the Film Archive foyer for the duration of the Sleepers Awake season.

"It was quite exciting to get out the actual pistol Sam Neill's character Smith held all those years ago and to see how the costume department had to hand-draw their own police badges," says Dean.

First premiered at the Wintergarden in Auckland on 6 October 1977, Sleeping Dogs stars Sam Neill and Ian Mune, and was directed by Roger Donaldson (in his filmmaking debut).

The film was also recognised as NZ's first real action movie, featuring helicopters, explosions, bombs and full riot scenes in Auckland city streets.

The film was based on the novel Smith's Dream by CK Stead, and follows a man named Smith (Sam Neill) who ends up running from the law during a time of militaristic tyranny.

In The Village Voice in 1982, Carrie Rickey wrote "Like Hitchcock's Saboteur, Sleeping Dogs is suffused with paranoia, mistaken identity and breathless chase. Unconventionally and convincingly, Donaldson makes the case that there's no such thing as existentialism, no personal giants to flying solo. Despite its obscure political context, better not let this Sleeping Dog lie, because it's sure to rouse you."

This anniversary screening marks the second week of Sleepers Awake - a programmeof films from the early 1980s that really put NZ filmmaking on the international map: Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace and Utu. Curated by Film Archive Projects Developer Diane Pivac, the season will finish with screenings of Spooked and The World's Fastest Indian - the latest NZ films from Roger Donaldson and Geoff Murphy, key players in 1980s New Zealand filmmaking.

Public Screening
When: Wednesday 10 October, 6.30pm
Where: NZ Film Archive, cnr Taranaki and Ghuznee Streets, Wellington

4/10/07

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

5 Oct 2007

The Big Idea Editor

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