Māori filmmakers' new film in first official selection for Toronto Film Festival

By Piripi Taylor

A new film co-produced by Māori filmmakers Chelsea Winstanley (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) and Ainsley Gardiner (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Pikiao)  is one of the first 12 official film selections at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Night Raiders is a New Zealand/Canada co-production and is the debut feature film by award-winning Cree-Metis film-maker Danis Goulet.

The science fiction apocalyptic film is a female-driven dystopian drama about resilience, courage and love starring Blackfoot, Kainai First Nation and Sámi film-maker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers as well as New Zealand actor Alex Tarrant.

The film had its worldwide premiere at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival in March.

Toronto Festival co-head Cameron Bailey said it was an honour to introduce the world to outstanding Canadian debuts such as Goulet.

Both Winstanley and Gardiner have been collaborating with indigenous filmmakers around the world for some years, in particular in North America. The film is executive produced by Taika Waititi  (Te Whānau a Apanui) and will feature in Toronto alongside the world premiere of American crime-thriller The Guilty by Antoine Fuqua and a documentary film about Dionne Warwick. 

The 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival will take place from September 9-18 and welcomes back audiences to in-person screenings after Covid-19 forced the festival to hold live-streamed screenings last year.

“It’s been a tough year and we’re so glad to be back,” Bailey said. 

“We are so proud of the calibre of the films and the diversity of the stories we will be presenting this year,” Joana Vicente, festival executive director and co-head said. “It is so powerful to be able to share these films with festival-goers in theatres."

The first 12 films in the festival’s Official Selection for 2021 are: 

Le Bal des Folles directed by Mélanie Laurent (France) from Amazon Studios

Benediction, directed by Terence Davies (United Kingdom) from Bankside Films

Belfast, from director Kenneth Branagh (United Kingdom) from Focus Features

Charlotte, directed by Eric Warin and Tahir Rana (Canada/Belgium/France) from Elevation Pictures and MK2 Mile End

Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over, directed by Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner (USA)

The Guilty by director Antoine Fuqua (USA) from Netflix

HBO's Jagged documentary on iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, directed by Alison Klayman (USA)

Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce (Canada)

Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright (United Kingdom) from Focus Features

Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet (Canada/New Zealand) from Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films

Petite Maman, directed by Céline Sciamma (France) from Elevation Pictures and NEON

The Starling by director Theodore Melfi (USA) from Netflix