Taika Waititi has agreed to become the first patron of Opotiki’s De Luxe Theatre, in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
The Waihau Bay born film-maker and writer is currently filming in the United States but has responded positively to an approach from Opotiki’s Community Theatre Trust.
With Waititi’s movie Boy – filmed in Waihau Bay near East Cape and based on his childhood experiences – now the biggest-earning New Zealand film of all time, the trust has seized the chance to boost the profile of the elegant heritage theatre by maintaining a close association with the local boy made good.
Boy – which Waititi directed, wrote and stars in – screened in Opotiki after an outdoor premiere on a marae in Waihau Bay, attracting 1800 people to the cinema.
Trust spokesman Malcolm Ballard said the film’s unique appeal had reached a broad cross-section of the local community and had attracted people to the cinema who had not seen a film on the big screen for years.
“Local teenager James Rolleston, who starred in Boy, is an example of how opportunities can change one’s life – one moment an Opotiki primary school pupil, the next an actor featuring at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah,” Mr Ballard said.
“Taika’s achievements are far greater by comparison but both he and James are role models in their own way.
“Boy generated a lot of good feeling and boosted the theatre’s profile and the trust does not want to lose this momentum.”
Waititi was nominated for an Oscar for his short film Two Cars, One Night a few years ago and, in acknowledgment of his early work, the trust is planning to stage a short film festival next year and to also hold a short film competition.