First time director Stefen Lewis shot this feature drama in a documentary style similar to the works of British Director Ken Loach and Woody Allen. The film has a very dry sense of humor as it explores the Kepa family's court-room battle to regain their tribal land which was unlawfully stolen in 1866. Lewis has used some of New Zealands finest actors delivering extraordinary performances. The cast lead by Jim Moriarty also includes many first time actors who simply play themselves.
Lewis maintained the documentary look by shooting a mix of live courtroom footage cut with direct to camera interviews with cast and fly-on-the-wall footage. The cameraman in the story "Dave" is actually a character in the story and interacts by speaking to the actors. To keep the realist look of the film the actual cameraman was never shown a script. He didn't have any idea what was in each scene and who would speak or move within the scenes. The slightly chaotic style including swing-pans, zoom crashes and occasional loss of focus that resulted is entirely real. Anyone who enjoyed the Dogme95 films of Lars Van Trier and Thomas Vintenberg will get a kick out of this outstanding and unusual film.
The Waimate Conspiracy won the "Wairoa Maori Film Festival Prize and Best Feature Drama Award 2006" and won the prize for Best Film at the Brisbane "Digispaa Film Festival 2006". The film played to an excited capacity audience in the 2006 New Zealand International Film Festival. This film is now officially selected for Melbourne International Film Festival.
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