An Unbroken Faith in Broken

Modern version of 18th-century story to premiere here.

Modern version of 18th-century story to premiere here.

A scene from the forthcoming film Broken. Picture supplied

A period film version of Joy Cowley’s story about 19th century student Tarore who was murdered during a raid by a group of Te Arawa men would be too expensive to make, says filmmaker Tarry Mortlock.

But when someone suggested making a modern version “it opened a world of possibilities".

Five years ago, Mortlock embarked on making that modern version of the revenge and redemption story and now Broken is to have its world premiere in Gisborne on January 25. Broken tells the story of ex-gang leader Logan who has left gang life to raise his daughter Tori. When Tori is murdered by an opposing gang, Logan is torn between forgiveness and revenge.

Shot in Gisborne and Anaura Bay, Broken features several locals, including Ruatoria policeman Josh Calles who was cast as Logan, and Campion College drama teacher Jol Sparks.

“We had a lot of people who had never acted before,” says Mortlock.

“Josh, Jol and Ruby Grubb (who plays Logan’s daughter Tori) were thrown so far in the deep end it wasn’t funny.

“Honestly bro, it was so intense. Josh threw himself into the role. He was definitely stretched further than he expected in the process. I would push him harder but he nailed it.”

During the screen test, Calles acted out the scene in which Logan finds his murdered daughter, a turning point for his character. For the screen test, Calles daughter played Tori’s part in that scene.

(Is it wrong to gasp “holy s***” while on the phone with a pastor-director? But wait, there’s more).

Wayne Hapi, who made his acting debut in The Dark Horse, was one of the former gang members cast for the film. In one scene scripted by Mortlock, Hapi’s character Cruz sits by his dead father’s headstone and talks to him.

“I thought that might have been over the top but Wayne said ‘I’ve done this. I’ve got this bro’.”

In another scene Mortlock wrote for Cruz, the gang member reconnects with his mother not long before she passes away. Hapi had been there too. While working on The Dark Horse he reconciled and reconnected with his mother who died not long afterwards.

“Wayne carries an authenticity,” says Mortlock.

“He is very, very good. The key to acting is not to act but to be yourself in that role on screen.”

Mortlock is a pastor and follows the Christian faith but Broken is not a Christian story, he says. It is a New Zealand story.

“I never set out to make a Christian movie for Christians. The theme of forgiveness was important and is apparent in the film but I needed to tell a story that would appeal to people.”

As a man of faith, though, happy coincidences during the making of the film affirmed for Mortlock the hand of God was upon his work.

“I have never experienced that as dynamic as much before. Things would happen at the right time in the right place.”

'Never surprised by the coincidences'

Broken is due for general release on February 1, a few days before Waitangi Day, an occasion that unfailingly underlines Maori grievance at the negative impact of colonisation, and the need for reconciliation.

“The timing doesn’t surprise me,” says Mortlock.

“So many absolute miracles have taken place with this film, I was never surprised by coincidences.”

Justice and the righting of wrongs needs to prevail, but unless forgiveness follows then justice alone will not satisfy, says Mortlock.

“Young people need to know there is a way out and that way is through forgiveness.

“I want people to enjoy the movie and connect with it and come out feeling hopeful. That’s the goal.”

  • Broken premieres at the Odeon on January 25. Doors open at 7.30pm. There will be guest speakers and the film starts at 8pm. Tickets are only available online from Eventbrite.

A period film version of Joy Cowley’s story about 19th century student Tarore who was murdered during a raid by a group of Te Arawa men would be too expensive to make, says filmmaker Tarry Mortlock.

But when someone suggested making a modern version “it opened a world of possibilities".

Five years ago, Mortlock embarked on making that modern version of the revenge and redemption story and now Broken is to have its world premiere in Gisborne on January 25. Broken tells the story of ex-gang leader Logan who has left gang life to raise his daughter Tori. When Tori is murdered by an opposing gang, Logan is torn between forgiveness and revenge.

Shot in Gisborne and Anaura Bay, Broken features several locals, including Ruatoria policeman Josh Calles who was cast as Logan, and Campion College drama teacher Jol Sparks.

“We had a lot of people who had never acted before,” says Mortlock.

“Josh, Jol and Ruby Grubb (who plays Logan’s daughter Tori) were thrown so far in the deep end it wasn’t funny.

“Honestly bro, it was so intense. Josh threw himself into the role. He was definitely stretched further than he expected in the process. I would push him harder but he nailed it.”

During the screen test, Calles acted out the scene in which Logan finds his murdered daughter, a turning point for his character. For the screen test, Calles daughter played Tori’s part in that scene.

(Is it wrong to gasp “holy s***” while on the phone with a pastor-director? But wait, there’s more).

Wayne Hapi, who made his acting debut in The Dark Horse, was one of the former gang members cast for the film. In one scene scripted by Mortlock, Hapi’s character Cruz sits by his dead father’s headstone and talks to him.

“I thought that might have been over the top but Wayne said ‘I’ve done this. I’ve got this bro’.”

In another scene Mortlock wrote for Cruz, the gang member reconnects with his mother not long before she passes away. Hapi had been there too. While working on The Dark Horse he reconciled and reconnected with his mother who died not long afterwards.

“Wayne carries an authenticity,” says Mortlock.

“He is very, very good. The key to acting is not to act but to be yourself in that role on screen.”

Mortlock is a pastor and follows the Christian faith but Broken is not a Christian story, he says. It is a New Zealand story.

“I never set out to make a Christian movie for Christians. The theme of forgiveness was important and is apparent in the film but I needed to tell a story that would appeal to people.”

As a man of faith, though, happy coincidences during the making of the film affirmed for Mortlock the hand of God was upon his work.

“I have never experienced that as dynamic as much before. Things would happen at the right time in the right place.”

'Never surprised by the coincidences'

Broken is due for general release on February 1, a few days before Waitangi Day, an occasion that unfailingly underlines Maori grievance at the negative impact of colonisation, and the need for reconciliation.

“The timing doesn’t surprise me,” says Mortlock.

“So many absolute miracles have taken place with this film, I was never surprised by coincidences.”

Justice and the righting of wrongs needs to prevail, but unless forgiveness follows then justice alone will not satisfy, says Mortlock.

“Young people need to know there is a way out and that way is through forgiveness.

“I want people to enjoy the movie and connect with it and come out feeling hopeful. That’s the goal.”

  • Broken premieres at the Odeon on January 25. Doors open at 7.30pm. There will be guest speakers and the film starts at 8pm. Tickets are only available online from Eventbrite.
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