THE DARK HORSE
Directed by James Napier Robertson
Audience Award, 2015 International Film Festival Rotterdam
Audience Award (Narrative Feature), 2015 San Francisco International Film Festival
Best Picture, 2014 New Zealand Film Awards
Four years in the making, THE DARK HORSE adapts the real-life experience of Maori chess champion Genesis Potini as he attempts to train a group of youth despite harboring bipolar disorder.
Genesis, portrayed by Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider, Fear the Walking Dead), wanders physically and mentally. His brother Ariki (Wayne Hapi) and nephew Mana (James Rolleston) provide respite, but the prospect of living with Ariki’s loyalty-bound gang-mates proves too intimidating. Troubled, Genesis seeks out an opportunity to find therapy in chess’ positive values by mentoring a group of community kids and teens calling themselves “The Eastern Knights.” Gen’s past and present converge as his reputation frightens the community and puts him in peril of another mental collapse – all while his brother’s actions place his nephew in irreversible danger.
THE DARK HORSE presents the palpable intimacy of brotherhood – both blood and adopted. Relationships are injected with joy and dread, and at the center beating loud is Genesis’ sense of purpose. As outsider, teacher, and guardian, Gen and his spirit permeate the film’s every fiber and dare the dark horse in all of us to make the first move. –Justin Ricafort