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Sleeping Dogs


Wed 12 Oct 2016, 7:00pm–8:50pm

Where: Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, National Library Building, 70 Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington

Restrictions: R15

Ticket Information:

  • General Admission: $10.25 ea ($10.00 + $0.25 fees)
  • Concession Admission: $8.20 ea ($8.00 + $0.20 fees)
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Screening as part of the “Films that shaped New Zealand – Celebrating 120 Years of Cinema” series.

"Smith is a man on the run, running from a broken marriage. Accidentally caught between two powers – a repressive Government and a violent resistance movement – he becomes a man alone...hunted and hostile, driven by the will to survive."

The first 35mm film made in New Zealand in the 1970s, "Sleeping Dogs" played an important role in launching the modern new wave of New Zealand movie-making. It was the feature directorial debut of Roger Donaldson and helped launch the acting career of Sam Neil, in only his second on-screen role.

It also played an important role in the establishment of the NZ Film Commission, which would go on to fund the vast majority of feature and short films made in New Zealand since the late 1970s.

Based on CK Stead’s novel "Smith's Dream" (1971) it reimagines New Zealand as a fascist state, in a tense political thriller framed by the familiar kiwi trope of the man alone, on the run.

"So here is the real thing – a genuine made-in-New-Zealand feature which makes no bones about being constructed according to the standards of overseas films, a real local production... it is odd to be confronted by a film which embodies specifically New Zealand artistic concepts, a film reflecting the character of New Zealanders" – Stephen Ballantyne, "NZ Listener," October 1977.

"For a debut, 'Sleeping Dogs' is precociously accomplished, betraying Donaldson’s still-photography background in its carefully composed frames. It pulses at a sprinter’s pace, perhaps learned while Donaldson did time making TV commercials... Unconventionally and convincingly, Donaldson makes the case that there’s no such thing as existentialism, no personal gains to flying solo. Despite its obscure political context, better not let this Sleeping Dog lie, because it’s sure to rouse you.” – Carrie Rickey, "Village Voice," 9 March 1982.

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