Contemporary World Cinema
SIFF Says:Winner of six New Zealand Film Awards including Best Picture, Director, and Actor, James Napier Robertson’s superbly realized biopic traces the damaged but ultimately rewarding life of legendary speed chess champion Genesis Potini, a.k.a. “the Dark Horse.” Cliff Curtis (ONCE WERE WARRIORS, WHALE RIDER) gives a staggering performance as Potini, a Maori man who due to his struggles with bipolar disorder has spent time in and out of institutions. When suddenly confronted with a nephew (James Rolleston, BOY) who’s but a hair’s breadth away from gang life, Potini buckles down and joins the Eastern Knights chess association, using chess to turn around the lives of some 15,000 at-risk Maori kids. Carefully balancing humor with a raw and unpredictable style, THE DARK HORSE transcends its tried-and-true genre—the troubled mentor who despite all odds raises the spirits of a ragtag group of disadvantaged youth—and emerges as a deeply felt, wildly inspirational drama with a bite.
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