Something to watch tonight: Thursday 8 February
Mt. Zion (Kahi, 2013)
The other day I was having a polite and constructive* discussion online with some film media colleagues about why distributors and cinemas are paying no heed to official release dates anymore. It feels like there are sneak previews as far as the eye can see.
One of the participants also wondered why it was that the new Bob Marley biopic, Bob Marley: One Love, wasn’t opening in New Zealand on Waitangi Day (Bob’s birthday and for a long time a day of considerable significance for Marley fans in Aotearoa).
I was reminded of the last time a movie got a conscious Waitangi Day release, Mt. Zion in 2013:
Kiwi crowd-pleasers don’t come much more crowd-pleasing than Tearepa Kahi’s Mt. Zion, featuring TV talent quester Stan Walker in a star-making performance as a working class kid with a dream. Slogging his unwilling guts out picking potatoes in the market gardens of 1979 Pukekohe, nervously making the first steps in a music career that seems impossible and fantasising about meeting the great Bob Marley, Walker’s Turei is out of step with his hard working father (Temuera Morrison) and the back-breaking work.
When a local promoter announces a competition to be the support act for the reggae legend’s forthcoming concert at Western Springs, Turei tests the boundaries of family and friendship to get a shot at the big time. The bones of the story are familiar, of course, but there’s meat on the bones too – a slice of New Zealand social history with economic changes making life harder for a people who don’t own the land that they work. Production design (by Savage) and authentic-looking 16mm photography all help give Mt. Zion a look of its own and the music – though not normally to my taste – is agreeable enough.
Also in that February 2013 review are Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren in Hitchcock, the utterly execrable Movie 43, You Will be My Son, Step Up to the Plate, On Air and Denzel Washington as a boozehound commercial pilot in Flight.
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Where to watch Mt. Zion
Aotearoa: Digital rental from NZ Film On Demand
Rest of the world: No chance, sorry
I find it extraordinary that a prominent New Zealand film like this should be so hard to find. If the Australian programmers of the AU/NZ version of Netflix had any clues about Aotearoa, Mt. Zion would be on there.