'Out of the Blue' scoops NZ awards

Robert SarkiesOut of the Blue, a movie dramatisation of the 1990 Aramoana tragedy, has scooped the inaugural Film and Television Awards announced in Auckland on Saturday night.

The awards are an amalgamation of the New Zealand Screen Awards and the New Zealand Television Awards, which have been run for the past three years.

The movie won best picture with a budget over $1 million, best performance by an actor in a leading role (Matthew Sunderland as gunman David Gray) and best screenplay in film (Graeme Tetley and Robert Sarkies).

The award validated Dunedin director Sarkies' decision to proceed with the controversial film.

The account of Aramoana resident Gray's 22-hour armed rampage was fiercely opposed by local residents when it was originally proposed in November, 2005.

Thirteen people, aged from 6 years old to 71, were shot dead by Gray in the township on Tuesday, November 13, 1990.

The film-makers subsequently agreed not to use the name Aramoana in the film title and the majority of the 100-minute movie was subsequently filmed at Long Beach, between February and April in 2006.

Dunedin director Sarkies was also disappointed when the New Zealand Film Censor's Office gave the film an R-Rating.

"To me, this puts a good full-stop on the project," Sarkies told the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"It was great to have the film recognised, after all the hard work that went into it. It's always nice to be acknowledged by your peers, which is what these awards are about, and it's also great to see the cast and crew acknowledged for their work," he said.

"It was also impossible not to think of the people of Aramoana at the awards."

Sarkies said the film was not meant to be a documentary about the tragedy, but "a drama which relives the human tragedy and heroic feats of bravery and survival on November 13, 1990".

The awards continue a successful run of Dunedin-based films for the former-Kaikorai Valley College pupil, after his 1999 hit Scarfies, about a flat of Otago University students.

"I haven't proven yet that I'm capable of making a successful film out of Dunedin," Sarkies joked.

"But, the reality is, we couldn't have made Out of the Blue anywhere else but Dunedin for the budget.

"There's something very special about making films in Dunedin. There's a lot of goodwill there."

Sarkies said he was already working on future Dunedin film projects.

"It's all a bit hush-hush at the moment, but we've definitely got a few things in mind."

Elsewhere, Outrageous Fortune was the big winner, with the show's star, and best actress winner Robyn Malcolm revealing work has already begun on a fifth season.

 

• Award highlights:

Film: Best picture - budget over $1 million, Out of the Blue; budget under $1 million, A Song of Good; directing - budget under and over $1 million, Taika Waititi, Eagle vs Shark; leading actress - Geraldine Brophy, Second-Hand Wedding;leading actor - Matthew Sunderland, Out of the Blue; best screenplay - Graeme Tetley and Robert Sarkies, Out of the Blue.

Television: Best news - One News; best news or current affairs presenter - Mark Sainsbury; investigation of the year - Mike Valintine and Hunter Wells, Sunday; TV journalist of the year - Mike Valintine and Hunter Wells, Sunday; best actress - Robyn Malcolm, Outrageous Fortune; best actor - Antony Starr, Outrageous Fortune; images and sound best drama programme - Outrageous Fortune; best documentary - An Island Calling.

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