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The Dark Horse
|Director||James Napier Robertson|
From The Booth
Somehow, New Zealand filmmakers possess an uncanny knack for capturing contemporary aboriginal stories (Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, Boy come to mind) and The Dark Horse continues in that strong tradition. The film is based on the true story of Genesis (Gen) Potini, who was released from a psychiatric institution with the proviso that he stay on the meds treating his bipolar disorder. Gen’s re-integration into society is anything but smooth (his closest family member is the leader of a bike gang) and he seems destined to return to institutional life until he meets an unlikely group of Maori teens known as the Eastern Knights, a youth chess club. Gen and the kids gradually form strong bonds of friendship with the chess pieces becoming symbolic totems carved from their history and the chess board, representative of their land, itself in need of protection and stewardship. The Dark Horse avoids falling into sentimentality, delivering an inspirational and uplifting story. Recommended.