Production has wrapped on Piki Films (JoJo Rabbit, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and Sandy Lane Productions (Bad Behaviour, Juniper) feature The Mountain.
The film marks acclaimed Aotearoa New Zealand actor Rachel House’s (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga) directorial debut and also the acting debuts of three children, Elizabeth Atkinson (Te Atiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Toa, Ngā Koata, Ngāti Tama, Kai Tahu), Reuben Francis, and Terence Daniel (Ngāti Kahungunu, Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga, Kuki Airani – Aitutaki) in the leading roles. They are joined by Troy Kingi (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) (Muru), Byron Coll (Nude Tuesday), Fern Sutherland (Brokenwood Mysteries), and Sukena Shah.
The Mountain is a heartfelt drama about three children on a mission to find healing under the watchful eye of Taranaki Mounga (Mountain) and discover friendship in the spirit of adventure.
The film is co-written by House and Tom Furniss. “I can’t wait for you to meet these beautiful kids and feel the strength of their connection with our mountain, Taranaki,” said Rachel House.
House is best known for her performances in Aotearoa New Zealand’s most successful films Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Boy, and Whale Rider and plays lead roles in Disney’s Moana and Pixar’s Soul. She currently appears in Netflix’s Heartbreak High and has upcoming roles in Next Goal Wins, Foundation and Time Bandits. Behind the scenes, House has coached young cast on many film and television productions including Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit, and has a 15 year background as an award-winning theatre director and actor.
The Mountain is produced by Desray Armstrong (Te Aitanga-ā-Hauiti, Ngāti Porou) for Sandy Lane Productions and Morgan Waru (Ngāti Porou) for Piki Films with Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi (Te-Whānau-ā-Apanui) and Paul Wiegard serving as Executive Producers. The film was shot on location around Taranaki, with support from Taranaki whānui.
Eight Māori iwi view Taranaki Mounga and the surrounding peaks as ancestors and the mountains will soon be provided legal personhood as redress for their confiscation 157 years ago.
“This film would not be possible without the support and participation of the descendants of Taranaki Mounga and we are grateful for their belief and trust in Rachel and the team behind the project,” said Desray Armstrong.
“Rachel’s directorial debut has been a long time coming and having seen her work with kids in Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit, I can’t think of a better person to be helming this heartfelt adventure,” said Carthew Neal.
The film is made with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Government’s Screen Production Grant, NZ On Air, Whaakata Māori, Department of Post, Native Audio, Nude Run, Hillfarrance and financed in association with Kiwibank. The film is distributed in New Zealand by Madman and Piki Films and in Australia by Madman. Sales by Piki Films.