Rūrangi Reviewed by Clayton Barnett

The Premise
A young trans activist, Caz (Elz Carrad), breaks down in tears in front of a support group towards the start of Rūrangi. He doesn’t know how he can help the queer people in front of him, and feels entirely guilty, even shameful about that fact. Like many of our young queer people, he’s burned out not by his struggle, but by the struggle of those around him. Having fled his hometown of Rūrangi to find himself, Caz returns hoping to connect not just with his father (Kirk Torrance), who he left ten years ago, pre-transition, but the small community whose residents are having struggles of their own now as well.

The Review
Kiwi web series Rūrangi is making its debut at the NZIFF, and if there was ever reason to get out and support local cinema this is it – a powerful human drama featuring some great gender-diverse talent behind the screen and on it.

Rūrangi five-episode season makes for an irresistible feature-length watch. Sick of poor trans and queer representation on Kiwi screens, director Max Currie (Everything We Loved) tells the stories of LGBTQi+ from their own perspective. With a ground breaking gender-diverse cast and crew, it’s authentic and inspiring viewing. 

It’s not the usual stuff you’ve seen on screen, the focus on transition or violence against trans people, but about trans and queer people living life with all its relatable and affecting human drama.

What a lead performance from newcomer trans actor Elz Carrad, showing a vulnerable emotional depth that totally draws you in. His journey is compelling and captivating stuff, plus there’s a great ensemble cast with their own unique journeys too. Outrageous Fortune star Kirk Torrance plays his grizzled father, Arlo Green (Shortland Street) is just so lovable as his bumbling ex, and stage actor Āwhina Rose Henare Ashby (Waru) packs in the emotion as his high school bestie.

The cinematography is beautifully composed too, with German director of photography Johannes Louis capturing some stunning footage of rural New Zealand. 

The Verdict
The talented crew and cast shoot for the moon here - it screens like a big budget local drama rather than a web series - and showcases gender-diverse creative are a voice that need more platforms like this.

The Trailer
The Info
Releases: World Premiere 26th July 2020
Rating:  M - Contains Offensive language & suicide references
Duration: 96 minutes 
Genre:  Drama/Kiwi
Starring: Elz Carrad, Kirk Torrance, Āwhina Rose Henare Ashby, Arlo Green, Ramon Te Wake, Renee Lyons, Aroha Rawson, Renée Sheridan, Sonny Tupu
Director: Max Currie

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