The projects will be developed by Neal, and producer Morgan Waru who has taken a full-time position at the company, after having worked with Piki on several previous projects.
Tina Makereti’s novel “The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke,” is set for adaptation as a feature film. The story involves a curious Maori teen who adventures to London in the 1840s to appear as a live exhibit amongst Maori artefacts. Initially, he enjoys the attention and hedonism of London, but soon discovers he cannot get past being labelled as a savage.
“It seems strangely timely to see this story developed into a film, as we witness the toppling of colonial statues and attitudes,” said Makereti in a statement.
The recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter has caused a global rethink of attitudes not only towards race, but also towards colonialization and the symbols of it that linger in present day society. A statue of British colonialist George Hamilton was this month removed by the city council of the North Island town which takes his name.
Angella Dravid’s award-winning stand-up comedy show “Down the Rabbit Hole,” will also be adapted as a movie. It retells her story of running away to marry a man three times her age on the other side of the world, before landing in a female British prison, a place where she inadvertently and ironically, finds herself. Briar Grace-Smith will write the screenplay with Dravid.
A third project is Michael Bennett and Jane Holland’s television crime thriller “Better the Blood,” which follows an obsessive Maori detective as she hunts down an indigenous serial killer revenging the wrongs of New Zealand’s colonizers. “This story allows us to explore the long-term scars of our brutal colonial history in the context of a visceral and popular genre,” said Bennett.
Auckland-based Piki Films was behind New Zealand’s highest box office feature films “Jojo Rabbit,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” both directed by Waititi, and “The Breaker Upperers,” directed by Madeleine Simi and Jackie van Beek. The company is involved in the stories of under-represented people at development, production and release stages.