What if some shrewd filmmaker had recognized Barack Obama’s boyhood promise and documented the birth of his political consciousness as a teen? In “Maori Boy Genius,” documaker Pietra Brettkelly (“The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins”) may well be profiling New Zealand’s future prime minister. Despite the hyperbolic title, subtitled “Volume One,” the low-key pic is an inspiring look at the education and training of charismatic, articulate 16-year-old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, pegged since birth as a future leader. A smart choice for broadcasters and fests, “Genius” should have a healthy shelf life in educational ancillary. Read the review>>
Wall St Journal
Maori Boy Genius” deals with the broader issue of indigenous minorities attempting to preserve their culture while working within established governments and education systems. The New Zealand documentary tracks 16-year-old prodigy Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti as he attends summer school at Yale and applies to study there full-time. Read the article>>
The Daily Telegraph
Love a good doco? Then Maori Boy Genuis is a must-see. It follows child prodigy Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, a 16-year-old Yale student. The fascinating documentary looks at the pressures and perks of a teenager tipped to become New Zealand’s first Maori Prime Minister. Read the article>>
The organizers of Sheffield Doc/Fest have unveiled this year’s list of films that will compete for awards in six categories and one new guest category, as well as the winner of the Inspiration Award. The nominees for the Best Female-Director Film Award are…. Read the article>>
“Pietra Brettkelly is the award-winning director and producer of Māori Boy Genius, a film opening in cinemas throughout New Zealand this May. Chlöe Swarbrick sat down with her to discuss the intricacies and restrictions of documentary film making, along with the finer details of her first film to reach commercial movie theatre screens.” Read here>>
“After wowing overseas audiences at film festivals on Berlin, Sydney and New York last year, feature documentary Māori Boy Genius is returning home for a nationwide cinema release, beginning 2 May.” Read here>>
“Maori Boy Genius is a must see uplifting documentary about 16 year old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti. He earned his first university degree when he was just 12 and the documentary tells the story of his journey to Yale.
Esther caught up with the documentary director and producer Pietra Brettkelly.” Listen to the interview here>>
“Documentary features announced for the Planet in Focus Film Festival which hits Toronto from October 10-14, include the North American premiere of Maori Boy Genius from New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly. Read it here>>
“Brettkelly manages to highlight the natural drama of the piece without belittling or exaggerating it…” Read the review>>
Sydney Film Festival
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them …” Sydney Film Festival interview with Director Pietra Brettkelly and Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti. Watch the interview>>
New Zealand Herald
The 2012 New Zealand International Film Festival is a veritable oasis of Palmes. Read the article>>
Pietra Brettkelly is a New Zealand documentary director and producer, best known for the film The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins. Her new documentary Maori Boy Genius is screening at SFF. Read the article>>
About Last Weekend
An inside look at behind the scenes at Berlinale with the filmmaker’s sister. Read the article>>
Judging by the audience response at the premiere in Berlin, Maori Boy Genius is well placed to follow the success of Pietra Brettkelly’s last narrative feature, The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins.
Her new doco tells the story of 16-year-old Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti—bilingual, bicultural and already showing political leadership—during a pivotal year for him and his family. He beats the odds to win a place at Yale University’s prestigious summer school. On his return, he takes his first major political steps.
Pietra and Ngaa Rauuira, now 18, spoke with me about the journey to Berlin and their plans for the future. Read the interview>>
An audio podcast where Pietra talks about her filmmaking start; being a producer as well as a director; the Binger Filmlab; working with Lars von Trier’s editor Molly Stensgaard; and the challenges of working from New Zealand and of funding docos. Listen to the podcast>>