World premiere in Gisborne for Broken

RAGE AND PAIN: Former gang leader Logan, played by Ruatoria policeman Josh Calles, leads a powerful haka at his murdered daughter’s tangi in filmmaker Tarry Mortlock’s movie Broken. Pictures supplied
A tense moment for Murphy, played by Campion College drama teacher Jol Sparks.
IN THE GANG HQ: Tokomaru Bay rapper and vocalist Josh Andzue is Mad Bulls gang member Jack in Broken. He performs under the name Kwick Andzue in the movie’s music video.
Gisborne crane driver Loupua “Lops” Lavulo is “always keen for a good laugh”, says the Broken cast profile, and in the movie he plays gang member Axe.

THE red carpet rolls out at the Odeon on Thursday for the world premiere of Broken, a film that takes revenge and redemption as its theme.

Shot in Gisborne and Anaura Bay, with several local people in the cast and crew, as well as former gang member and The Dark Horse actor Wayne Hapi, the film centres on Logan, a man who has left his gang life behind him.

When Logan’s daughter Tori is murdered by an opposing gang, Logan is torn between revenge and forgiveness.

The trailer shows snippets of scenes of gang tension, violence and powerful grief that brings to mind Once Were Warriors. Like the 1994 movie, Broken ends with a note of hope.

“With Broken, we never set out to make a gang movie but a story of tribal warfare in a modern setting,” said filmmaker Tarry Mortlock.

Mortlock had long thought about making a movie. He found his inspiration for Broken five years ago while organising an Easter event with the theme of heroes from New Zealand history.

During an online search he came across heroes such as people involved in the Christchurch earthquake, two-time Victoria Cross recipient Charles Upham and Tarore.

“I discovered Joy Cowley’s children’s story Tarore and Her Book, and was captured by the tale,” he said.

In the 1800s, missionaries gave young girl Tarore a copy of St Luke’s gospel, which she carried in a bag around her neck. When Tarore was killed during an attack by a raiding party from Te Arawa, the girl’s father urged his people to seek reconciliation rather than revenge.

“In Rotorua, the warrior who killed Tarore read the book with its message of peace. ‘Love your enemies’, the book said,” writes Cowley in her story.

The warrior then approached Tarore’s father Ngakuku and asked for forgiveness.

“Today, the tangata whenua (the people of the land) say, 'the missionaries brought Christianity to this country but it was our people who gave it to each other'."

World of possibilities

The cost of making a film set in 19th century New Zealand was prohibitive but when someone suggested making a modern version of the story, “a world of possibilities” opened up.

The cast includes many people who had never acted before, said Mortlock. Among them was Gisborne policeman Josh Calles.

“Honestly bro, it was so intense,” Mortlock said.

“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.”

One of the few actors with prior screen experience was former gang member and The Dark Horse actor Wayne Hapi.

Mortlock found Hapi in Auckland’s Queen Street.

“I sat with him, this white kid from the North Shore, and said ‘bro, do you want to be in this movie?’ We met for coffee the next day and he said yes.”

In one scene, 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 got this bro’.”

Reconciliation

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,” Mortlock said.

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

Although Mortlock is a pastor whose film was inspired by a story Cowley wrote in conjunction with the New Zealand Bible Society, Broken is not a Christian story, he said. 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.

“You can take that historical story and pull it in today. I truly believe reconciliation, forgiveness and letting go is key to what we need today to release tensions between Pakeha and Maori.”

Broken is Mortlock’s debut film. He is now working on a screenplay based on the true story of a South African Hells Angel he met in Canada.

“I’ve just finished writing a two-hour screenplay based on his radical life story. He has the script and is in California, meeting with producers.”

The story wrote itself, Mortlock said.

“I hardly needed to embellish it. It’s the sort of story that when people see it, would say ‘that’s way over the top’.”

Mortlock is bemused that he has written screenplays for two gang-based films.

“I’m a white kid from Auckland’s North Shore but for some reason these stories are put in front of me.”

THE red carpet rolls out at the Odeon on Thursday for the world premiere of Broken, a film that takes revenge and redemption as its theme.

Shot in Gisborne and Anaura Bay, with several local people in the cast and crew, as well as former gang member and The Dark Horse actor Wayne Hapi, the film centres on Logan, a man who has left his gang life behind him.

When Logan’s daughter Tori is murdered by an opposing gang, Logan is torn between revenge and forgiveness.

The trailer shows snippets of scenes of gang tension, violence and powerful grief that brings to mind Once Were Warriors. Like the 1994 movie, Broken ends with a note of hope.

“With Broken, we never set out to make a gang movie but a story of tribal warfare in a modern setting,” said filmmaker Tarry Mortlock.

Mortlock had long thought about making a movie. He found his inspiration for Broken five years ago while organising an Easter event with the theme of heroes from New Zealand history.

During an online search he came across heroes such as people involved in the Christchurch earthquake, two-time Victoria Cross recipient Charles Upham and Tarore.

“I discovered Joy Cowley’s children’s story Tarore and Her Book, and was captured by the tale,” he said.

In the 1800s, missionaries gave young girl Tarore a copy of St Luke’s gospel, which she carried in a bag around her neck. When Tarore was killed during an attack by a raiding party from Te Arawa, the girl’s father urged his people to seek reconciliation rather than revenge.

“In Rotorua, the warrior who killed Tarore read the book with its message of peace. ‘Love your enemies’, the book said,” writes Cowley in her story.

The warrior then approached Tarore’s father Ngakuku and asked for forgiveness.

“Today, the tangata whenua (the people of the land) say, 'the missionaries brought Christianity to this country but it was our people who gave it to each other'."

World of possibilities

The cost of making a film set in 19th century New Zealand was prohibitive but when someone suggested making a modern version of the story, “a world of possibilities” opened up.

The cast includes many people who had never acted before, said Mortlock. Among them was Gisborne policeman Josh Calles.

“Honestly bro, it was so intense,” Mortlock said.

“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.”

One of the few actors with prior screen experience was former gang member and The Dark Horse actor Wayne Hapi.

Mortlock found Hapi in Auckland’s Queen Street.

“I sat with him, this white kid from the North Shore, and said ‘bro, do you want to be in this movie?’ We met for coffee the next day and he said yes.”

In one scene, 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 got this bro’.”

Reconciliation

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,” Mortlock said.

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

Although Mortlock is a pastor whose film was inspired by a story Cowley wrote in conjunction with the New Zealand Bible Society, Broken is not a Christian story, he said. 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.

“You can take that historical story and pull it in today. I truly believe reconciliation, forgiveness and letting go is key to what we need today to release tensions between Pakeha and Maori.”

Broken is Mortlock’s debut film. He is now working on a screenplay based on the true story of a South African Hells Angel he met in Canada.

“I’ve just finished writing a two-hour screenplay based on his radical life story. He has the script and is in California, meeting with producers.”

The story wrote itself, Mortlock said.

“I hardly needed to embellish it. It’s the sort of story that when people see it, would say ‘that’s way over the top’.”

Mortlock is bemused that he has written screenplays for two gang-based films.

“I’m a white kid from Auckland’s North Shore but for some reason these stories are put in front of me.”

Broken premieres at the Odeon on Thursday and will screen simultaneously in the multiplex’s three cinemas. 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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