Taika Waititi, a New Zealand filmmaker for “Adapted screenplay”. You have to love someone who, during his Oscar acceptance speech, thanks his mother for giving him the book, “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens which led to him writing the screenplay for the movie ” Jojo Rabbit”. Described as a Belgian – New Zealand writer, Christine Leunenshas made New Zealand her home. Her book was first published in Spanish, and then in Catalan, Italian, and French, before an English version came out.
This is not Taika Waititi’s first nomination for an Oscar, in 2004 he was nominated for Best Short Film – Live Action, for the film “Two cars, one night.” Waititi has many other film achievements to his name, if you haven’t seen the films, “Boy” or “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” yet you are in for a treat. Both are what I would call real Kiwi films. He has contributed to many kiwi successes including directing a few episodes of the HBO comedy “Flight of the Conchords”.
New Zealand filmmakers have been nominated in a wide variety of Oscar categories, including Oscars for acting, special effects, music and screenplays. The most famous adapted screenplays were the Lord of the Rings trilogy, adapted for the screen by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson, and all three films were nominated for many categories in the Oscars. In 2004, after “Return of the King” won in all the 11 categories it was nominated in, host Billy Crystal asked if there was anyone in New Zealand who had not been thanked yet?
“Jojo Rabbit” won the Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice award in 2019. Interestingly another New Zealand film which had been an adapted screenplay, “Whale Rider” directed by Niki Caro won the same award in 2002.
So last night at the Oscars a Maori filmmaker won and the last word rightly belongs to him. “I dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance and write stories.”
Amanda Bond is a New Zealand ex-pat currently working as Teacher Librarian in an international school in Istanbul, Turkey. Her twitter handle is @kiwionthego