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World Famous in NZ

Sleeping Dogs

a Waitangi Day special

Director: Roger Donaldson, 1977, New Zealand, 107 mins, Cert: 15

Tue 6 February // 20:00

Tickets: £5 / £4 with proof of NZ-ness

Hunt for the Wilderpeople was not Sam Neill's first lost-in-the-NZ-bush film - Sleeping Dogs (1977) takes that prize, with a fresh-faced Neill taking his first lead role as Smith, a man escaping the break-up of his marriage by finding isolation on an island off the Coromandel Peninsula. As he settles into his new life, the country is experiencing its own turmoil: an oil embargo has left New Zealand in a state of martial law, with underground freedom fighters rebelling against the dictatorship. Implicated in a murder and framed as a revolutionary conspirator, reluctant hero Smith tries to avoid violence while caught between warring sides, but eventually ends up hunted through the dense, vertiginous wilderness by government militia intent on crushing the rebels.

Using precise details of Hitler's takeover of Germany, Sleeping Dogs combines ideology with fiercely-paced action. Adapted from C.K. Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream, the film was the biggest box-office hit of its time in New Zealand, almost single-handedly kickstarting the New Zealand New Wave, demonstrating that homegrown feature films could resonate with both local and international audiences (it was the first film from NZ to open in the United States), and launching the big-screen careers of director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail, Species, Dante's Peak) and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Event Horizon).

"Sleeping Dogs is simultaneously a political thriller, a personal drama and a true landmark in New Zealand cinema."

With a random selection of Kiwi tunes in the bar and the usual corner dairy treats, plus discounted entry with proof of NZ-ness. 

Film courtesy of Arrow Films