Auckland-born Denson Baker moved to Australia while still a child. Since then his award-studded career has balanced down under work, with shoots across the globe. Triple nominated for autism drama The Black Balloon, he scored awards with his fourth feature: the Indian-shot Waiting City, starring Joel Edgerton and directed by Baker's future wife Claire McCarthy. Baker also shot acclaimed Cliff Curtis drama The Dark Horse and NZ short Lambs.
I want the audience to feel like they were there in Kolkata, India with the characters; to feel it, smell it and taste it. Denson Baker, on The Waiting City
The Dark Horse is the story of a Māori ex-speed chess champ who must “overcome prejudice and violence in the battle to save his struggling chess club, his family and ultimately, himself”. Genesis Potini has a bi-polar disorder; his nephew Mana (Boy’s James Rolleston) faces being pressed into a gang. A near unrecognisable Cliff Curtis won international acclaim as Potini. James Napier Robertson's acclaimed second feature was picked to opened the 2014 Auckland and Wellington Film Festival, and scored six Moa awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor.
In this short film, 14-year-old Jimmy (Waka Rowlands) faces a tough decision: stay in his abusive home to protect his younger siblings, or escape to start a new life of his own. Written and directed by Sam Kelly, Lambs was inspired by true stories. It competed at the 2012 Clermont-Ferrand and Berlin Film Festivals, and won the Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2012 NZ Film Festival; judge Roger Donaldson raved: “It reminded me of Once Were Warriors in the best possible way.” Lambs was one of the first products of the NZ Film Commission’s ‘Fresh Shorts’ funding scheme.