Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kaitangata Twitch Premiere

Who here is a fan of television? Award-winning television? This Sunday 2nd May at 7PM on Māori Television – I’m pretty sure that’s Channel 6 (Channel 19 for those of you who live it up with Sky or Channel 5 on Freeview) – tune in to watch the premiere of their new family drama series Kaitangata Twitch.

The local drama is a mystery thriller based on Margaret Mahy’s teen novel Kaitangata Twitch told in thirteen half hour episodes. The series has been nominated for two international competitions for children’s and youth television programmes, the Prix Jeunesse and WorldFest-Houston 2010. Just last week it received a platinum Remi (that’s the highest prize) at WorldFest – sweet! Go New Zealand!

To clue you in on the story, the central 'character' is a piece of land, Kaintangata Island, an island with a mysterious past. The last time the island moved was an earthquake 50 years ago – it ‘twitched’ and a young girl disappeared without trace, apparently ‘swallowed’ by the island. Meredith Gallagher, who lives in the neighbouring community, is an ordinary 12 year-old girl about to discover her extraordinary psychic gifts. Now the island is moving again and only Meredith can find out what it wants, before it claims another victim.

Last weekend a buddy of mine and I were lucky enough to score two tickets to the New Zealand preview screening which was held in one of the ‘Director’s Lounge’ cinemas at Hoyts Sylvia Park in Auckland. I can tell you it felt like we were at the premiere of the next big Peter Jackson movie or something – no expense was spared. This is the first major drama commissioned by Māori Television and funded by New Zealand On Air, so everything was done in style to mark “an historic occasion” as the director, Yvonne Mackay informed us – free pre-drinks, nibbles, giant popcorn, swag bags, Gold Class seating and my favourite touch of all.. choc-top icecreams. Margaret Mahy herself attended, happily autographing copies of the book and without realising, we managed to seat ourselves next to the youth actors in the series including Te Waimarie Kessell, who plays Meredith Gallagher. Talk about schmoozing.

Aside from being thoroughly impressed by all the free loot we were plied with and the VIP-treatment we enjoyed, we were genuinely impressed as we sat down to watch one and a half hours of the show, split into 3 episodes. Having read the book, I think the team who collaborated on the series have made a programme that captures the important elements of Margaret Mahy’s story. ‘Kaitangata Twitch’ demonstrates the strong bond Meredith’s family and community share, the suspense is well-paced and humour is used effectively to balance the more serious moments, we both agreed the cast do a believable job of portraying this story of a family. While the special effects used when the island is angry and ‘awake’ could easily border on a bit cheesy, overall I think the camera work and filmmakers have made a high-quality production that is beautifully shot. It’s not difficult to see how it stood up against other international productions, and won.

If you want to catch a snippet of the show, watch this promo trailer before making sure you flick on the television tomorrow night, Saturday 2 May, at 7PM ton Māori Television to catch the beginning of this new local drama.

- Sarah

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