Big Screen Symposium

With over 20 years experience in the film industry, Cliff Curtis has appeared in and produced many of New Zealand’s most celebrated movies – including THE PIANO, ONCE WERE WARRIORS, WHALE RIDER and THE DARK HORSE, whilst carving a career as a chameleon character actor in Hollywood.

Starting his professional career in regional theaters across NZ, Curtis made his feature film debut in a small role in THE PIANO (1993). He explored a wide range of genres in NZ films including DESPERATE REMEDIES, JUBILEE and RIVER QUEEN. But it was ONCE WERE WARRIORS (1994) and WHALE RIDER (2002) that bought him to a wider audience. To date he has received four NZ Film and TV awards as well as the Best Actor in a Feature Film – Asia Pacific Screen Awards for his role as Genesis Potini in THE DARK HORSE (2014). This role also garnered him the Best Actor Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.

In Hollywood, Curtis has played an array of diverse roles and ethnicities, starring in movies alongside Hollywood legends such as Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins and George Clooney.

He currently stars in AMC’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD alongside Kim Dickens. The show premiered on August 23, 2015, and was the most watched series premiere in U.S cable TV history.

Also a producer, Curtis formed Māori film production company Whenua Films in 2004 with cousin Ainsley Gardiner. The pair produced Taika Waititi’s WWII short film TAMA TU (2005), debut feature, geek comedy EAGLE VS SHARK (2007), and BOY (2010), the feature inspired by Waititi’s Oscar-nominated short TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT. Accumulating a cache of local and international acclaim and awards for each project, it was BOY that became the highest grossing local film in NZ history only to be surpassed this year by another Waititi directed feature.

In 2013 Curtis created production company Arama Pictures to continue his commitment to indigenous storytelling inspired by the work of mentors Merata Mita, Don Selwyn & Barry Barclay.

Curtis continues to alternate financing and producing local stories with acting roles in Hollywood counting over 50 credits to date between producing and acting in TV, theatre and film.

See Cliff in the following session:

In Conversation with Cliff Curtis – Sun 25th September, 3:25pm.