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director: max currie (everything we love)

starring: Elz Carrad, Arlo Green, Ramon Te Wake and kirk torrance


REVIEWER: lyall carter

After skipping town a decade ago, transgender activist Caz Davis returns to the remote, politically divided dairy community of Rurangi, hoping to reconnect with his estranged father, who hasn't heard from him since before Caz transitioned.

As I’ve stated in many reviews and yearly recaps, 2020 really was a golden year for Kiwi film making. And if Rūrangi is anything to go by 2021 is going to be another stellar year for New Zealand cinema. Rūrangi is a heart rending yet tender exploration of transition, restoration and hope. 

Starring, produced and written by New Zealand’s gender diverse community, Rūrangi follows transgender activist Caz Davis as he heads home to the isolated, conservative dairy town of Rūrangi - where no-one’s heard or seen from Caz since before he transitioned. There he discovers that his former best friend, his estranged father and his ex-boyfriend are grappling with their own shifting identities and the consequences of Caz’s disappearance ten years ago.


As Caz struggles to make amends, his difficult relationship with his Dad pushes him to finally confront what he’s been running from. 


Rūrangi has to be one of the first films to be produced by the gender diverse community while also having actors from its community in key roles. It’s a firm and positive step towards more diversity in our films which can not only serve our gender diverse community but also help us understand and hear their stories and their voice. 


Rūrangi was originally produced in episodes and there are times where that can be felt with the pace of the film. That being said the narrative structure still allows for engagement and the development of the story and the characters. 


While at the heart of the film is Caz struggling with coming back to his hometown and the people that inhabit it, there are a variety of themes explored from Anahera’s exploration of her culture, Jem’s confusion and struggle with his sexuality to ideas around sustainable farming. All are given time to breathe, grow and fully develop and take us on a journey of discovery and learning. 


Elz Carrad is one to watch. His performance of Caz is phenomenal as he can turn on a dime from broken and vulnerable to backing himself against the world with fire in his eyes.


Rūrangi is a heart rending yet tender exploration of transition, restoration and hope.

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