NZ film STRAY to show at Moscow International Film Festival, 19-26 April

An independent New Zealand feature film, STRAY, has made history by becoming the first New Zealand feature film ever to be selected for the world’s second oldest film festival.


In 2016, in order to make the film, the filmmakers behind STRAY ran a massively successful crowdfunding campaign which broke records. They ultimately achieved the highest amount ever raised via donation-based crowdfunding for a New Zealand film, raising a total of $125,000. (www.boosted.org.nz/stray)

STRAY will soon have its World Premiere at the prestigious Moscow International Film Festival (April 19-26).

Moscow is one of only a handful of A-list film festivals, accredited by FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Association). Other A-list festivals include Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.

Moscow is the second oldest film festival in the world, founded in 1935. (Venice is the oldest, begun in 1933.) Sponsors of the festival include Mercedes Benz, Chopard and The Hollywood Reporter.

STRAY is the first New Zealand feature film ever to be selected for Moscow in the festival’s long history.

STRAY will be one of only twelve films presented in Main Competition at Moscow. This means that the film will be eligible for multiple awards, judged by a jury of international film industry members, as well as by a FIPRESCI jury. FIPRESCI is the International Federation of Film Critics (http://www.fipresci.org). As one of only twelve films in Main Competition, STRAY will have a red carpet premiere, festival press conference, and photo call.

Jury members in past years include Robert de Niro, Emir Kusturica, Richard Gere, and Luc Besson. Previous recipients of the festival’s prestigious Konstantin Stanislavsky acting award include Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Isabelle Huppert, Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel.

The director of STRAY, Dustin Feneley, joins an impressive list of directors including Guillermo del Toro (Oscar winner for The Shape of Water), Noah Baumbach (Oscar nominee for The Squid and the Whale), and Ruben Ostlund (Palme d’Or winner for The Square), whose first feature films premiered in Main Competition at Moscow.

 

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THE FILM

STRAY is the highly anticipated debut feature film from award-winning writer/director Dustin Feneley.

In a cold and remote landscape, two strangers struggle to repair their broken pasts. A young man is on parole after serving time for attempting to murder the man who killed his girlfriend in a hit and run. A woman is released from a psychiatric facility far from her homeland. These two damaged strangers cross paths in the mountains in winter and fall into a complex intimate relationship, putting to the test their capacity to trust and heal.

STRAY is a compelling arthouse drama about two alienated people who, through their chance connection, ultimately find the strength to move on with their lives. The film, set in winter in the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand, was predominantly shot in Central and North Otago, with additional photography shot in Auckland, Wellington and the Cook Strait.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

The project has already garnered significant international accolades. In 2011, STRAY was one of nine projects worldwide shortlisted for the Cannes Film Festival's esteemed screenwriting Résidence in Paris. In 2012, it was one of eight projects selected internationally for the prestigious Directors Lab of the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam. In 2013, STRAY was selected for CineMart, the longest-running co-production market in the world, held as part of the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

After a lengthy script development process, Feneley and producer Desray Armstrong looked to the American indie film scene for inspiration on film financing, where private equity investment, major arts philanthropy and crowdfunding are commonplace for independent filmmakers. Inspired by this indie pathway, Feneley and Armstrong sought to attract investors from Australasia’s arts scene, where they were pleased to find considerable backing for their arthouse film. These private investments complement significant film industry partnerships, including from Peter Jackson’s company Park Road Post Production, who came onboard to offer post-production services. The film’s final budget comprises private equity investments, in-kind film industry investments, corporate sponsorships and significant donation-based crowdfunding.

CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS

In 2016, in order to make the film, the filmmakers behind STRAY ran a massively successful crowdfunding campaign. They ultimately achieved the highest amount ever raised via donation-based crowdfunding for a New Zealand film, raising a total of $125,000. (www.boosted.org.nz/stray)

Boosted is a donation-based crowdfunding platform run by The Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Boosted is dedicated to arts projects and, because of its status as a registered charity, uniquely offers donors a 33% tax rebate on their donations.

STRAY’s Boosted campaign broke numerous records on the platform: the most donors ever to support any project on Boosted, the largest total amount ever raised for any type of artistic project on Boosted, and the largest total amount ever raised for a New Zealand film via donations. One of New Zealand’s most notable arts patrons, Dame Jenny Gibbs, backed the film as a significant Match Donor and many leading film industry practitioners, including Taika Waititi, Sam Neill, Jan Chapman, Bruce Beresford, Alison Maclean, Bridget Ikin and Robert Connolly made personal donations.

FILMMAKING TEAM

The filmmaking team behind STRAY comprises award-winning talent in front of and behind the camera, including writer/director/producer Dustin Feneley (Snow, Hawker), producer Desray Armstrong (Meathead, Ellen is Leaving), and cinematographer Ari Wegner (Lady Macbeth, The Kettering Incident, The Girlfriend Experience Season 2). In the lead roles are NZ rising star Kieran Charnock (The Rehearsal), and Kosovar actress Arta Dobroshi who came to international prominence in the Dardenne brothers' film Lorna's Silence in which she played the title role to great acclaim.

A number of the team members will be attending the World Premiere of STRAY at the Moscow International Film Festival from April 19-26.

STRAY Official Film Site (in development): www.strayfilm.com

STRAY Official Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/strayfeaturefilm

For interviews and film stills, please contact:

Dustin Feneley, Writer/Director/Producer, +64 22 099 8006, dustin@dustinfeneley.com

Desray Armstrong, Producer, +64 21 530 777, desray@me.com

 

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FILMMAKING TEAM BIOGRAPHIES


Dustin Feneley – Writer/Director/Producer

Dustin Feneley is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts Film School. His short films as writer and director (Night, Snow, Hawker, Eskimo Kiss) have won numerous awards and screened at over one hundred film festivals, including official selections at Cannes, London, Sydney and Melbourne. In 2006, his short film Snow premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Cinéfondation selection. Snow was further honoured by being exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In 2007, Dustin was the recipient of the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award for Moving Image, the leading awards for Australasia's emerging creative talent. In 2011, he was awarded the Filmmaker Grand Prix at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan for his body of work in short films.

Dustin is an alumni of Melbourne International Film Festival's Accelerator programme and Script to Screen's FilmUp programme. He has been a selector and mentor for Script to Screen's Short Film Lab and has taught undergraduate courses in filmmaking. His debut feature project Stray was selected for the Directors Lab of the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam in 2012 and for CineMart at Rotterdam in 2013. Set in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Stray will be released in 2018. Dustin lives in Auckland and is a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand.


Desray Armstrong – Producer

Desray Armstrong is an independent producer with a diverse slate of credits. From 2007-2011, Desray and producer/director Chelsea Winstanley ran New Zealand production company StanStrong with a focus on creating compelling, conscious and informative content with a Maori worldview. In recent years, Desray has built up a mass of physical production experience, predominantly in feature film. Credits include Mortal Engines, A Wrinkle in Time, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Rehearsal, The Light Between Oceans, Z for Zachariah, Slow West and What We Do in the Shadows.

Desray has produced award-winning short films including Meathead by Sam Holst (Cannes Film Festival 2011, Berlin Film Festival 2012 Crystal Bear Winner), Ellen is Leaving by Michelle Savill (SXSW Film Festival 2013 Best Narrative Short Winner) and Snowmen by Jonathan Brough (Show Me Shorts 2014). In 2017, she produced Michelle Savill’s latest short film Bats made in association with Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and recently completed Dustin Feneley’s independent debut feature Stray which is about to embark on its festival run.

She has produced visually rich music videos for Aaradhna, Shapeshifter and Tama Waipara directed by Jessica Sanderson and Mike Minogue’s comedy web series The Watercooler released on NZME’s platform Watch Me. Awarded Woman to Watch at the 2016 Women in Film & Television Awards, Desray has served on the boards of industry guilds Ngā Aho Whakaari and Women in Film & Television and is active in creating pathways for more women and Māori to step into key creative roles within the feature film landscape.

Desray is currently in postproduction with Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi and Paul Yates’ mockumentary reality series Wellington Paranormal Unit and Jessica Sanderson’s NZFC funded short film Ways to See.


Kieran Charnock – Lead Actor

Born in 1992, Kieran grew up in Masterton, New Zealand, and first got into performing whilst a student at Rathkeale College. After finishing high school, Kieran trained in the UK at the Young Actors Studio at the esteemed Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Upon graduating, Kieran performed with numerous professional theatre companies in Wales including the Sherman Theatre Company and the Black Rat Theatre Company.

In 2011, Kieran returned to New Zealand to act with renowned Wellington theatre company Long Cloud Youth Theatre, where he worked with respected directors Willem Wassenaar and Aaron Cortesi. The next year, Kieran performed in national tours of Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet with the Ugly Shakespeare Company. In 2013, Kieran starred in his first screen role - as the lead actor in the New Zealand Film Commission funded short film Cub, which went on to screen and win awards at numerous film festivals around the world. Since then, Kieran has quickly started to rise through the ranks of New Zealand screen actors. His feature film credits include Slow West starring Michael Fassbender and his television credits include the high-profile New Zealand mini-series When We Go To War.

2016 saw the release of Kieran's first supporting role in a feature film - as William in The Rehearsal, the adaptation of Eleanor Catton's award-winning novel, directed by Alison Maclean (Crush, Jesus' Son). Kieran's co-stars in The Rehearsal include Kerry Fox (An Angel At My Table, Intimacy) and James Rolleston (Boy, The Dark Horse). Kieran was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2017 New Zealand Film Awards for his performance in The Rehearsal.


Arta Dobroshi – Lead Actress

Arta Dobroshi is the first Kosovar actress in history to have starred in films that have screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival and be nominated for a European Film Award.

Dobroshi came to international prominence in the Dardenne brothers' film Lorna's Silence in which she played the title role to great acclaim and received international media attention. The film was awarded Best Screenplay at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and Dobroshi received unanimously high praise for her performance from international press.

Her performance in Catherine Corsini's Three Worlds won her the Barbara Tipple Best Actress Award at the 2012 Women's International Film and Television Showcase in Los Angeles and a second nomination in the Best Actress category at the European Film Awards.

In 2008, Dobroshi was appointed by the United Nations Development Programme as a MDG Champion / Goodwill Ambassador for Kosovo. The UNDP was impressed by her previous charity work and believed that her high profile would help raise awareness of issues in the region. Dobroshi served on the Jury of the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and was the winner of the Shooting Stars Award at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival.


Ari Wegner – Cinematographer

Ari Wegner is one of the finest emerging cinematographers from Australia. Her work, spanning from long-form drama to short films and documentaries, has screened at numerous international festivals including Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Sundance. Her debut feature as cinematographer, Grey Matter, directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza, premiered at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Grey Matter was the first feature film shot in Rwanda directed by a Rwandan filmmaker. Ari's second feature drama as cinematographer, Ruin, directed by Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Michael Cody, premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival where it won the Orizzonti Special Jury Prize.

2014 marked her first foray into the world of television, shooting Porchlight Film's The Kettering Incident on location in Tasmania. Directed by seasoned filmmakers Rowan Woods and Tony Krawitz, the eight-hour miniseries premiered on cable networks internationally in 2016.

Ari was the cinematographer of the highly successful UK feature film Lady Macbeth, directed by William Oldroyd, which screened at numerous A-list festivals worldwide in 2016 and 2017. Ari was awarded Best Cinematography at the British Independent Film Awards for her work on the film. In 2017, Ari shot the second season of US television series The Girlfriend Experience for director Lodge Kerrigan, and shot Peter Strickland's new film, In Fabric, currently in postproduction.

STRAY is the third collaboration between Ari and director Dustin Feneley, having previously worked together on short films Hawker and Eskimo Kiss.