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Hunt for the Wilderpeople
by Karen Pecota

Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress written by Barry Crump, the awarding-winning New  Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi was given the Crump family blessing to tell the  story on screen under the title Hunt for the Wilderpeople.  A relatable adventure tale that isn't so nice  and tidy. Waititi describes it as a story about the outsider, a rebel, who  lives on the fringes. Adding comic relief around every bend of the journey,  humor endears the soul.

Waititi, a fan of the  Crump family storytelling was hired by executive producer Charlie McClellan, in  2005, to adapt the Barry Crump classic Wild Pork and Watercress, into a  feature film script. After completion it sat on the shelf until 2013, when  Waititi re-entered negotiations to secure the rights for a film project with  the Crump family.

Waititi recalls what  impressed him about Crump's main characters. He says, "I love the way this  story takes two outsiders from different backgrounds, an odd couple of two  loners, forced to work together in a quest to stand independent and free of  society's unfair regulations." He adds, "Whether they are justified  in their mission isn't important--the mere fact they are trying to fight for  something is why the story stayed with me."

Producer Carthew Neal  says, "Barry Crump and Waititi share a sense of humor and love of the  renegade." He adds, "Waititi's seamless play between smart wit and  pathos makes for a soulful comedy. And a reminder family can be found anywhere."


Ten-year-old  Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a product of the foster-care system, is on his  last golden ticket from the state to find him the ideal family. The obnoxious  city kid is taken to the farm of an elderly couple in the back country of New  Zealand to get his fresh new start. Initially Ricky is angry that he will be  out of touch with everything he knows best. Ricky soon begins to settle into  his new environment with a certain degree of relief. For once in his life Ricky  feels safe. And, loved by the gracious couple, Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and  Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) and dog Tupac, who are giving him a new lease on his  young and troubled life.

Tragedy  comes upon the newly formed family that threatens to remove Ricky from his  adopted loved ones. Uncle Hec and Ricky conveniently disappear before the child  protective authorities arrive to take Ricky back to the city.

The  two are deemed fugitives of the state and a serious manhunt is underway. What  began as an innocent child-like retreat to the hills for safety from unjust  treatment turns into a highly organized search for the run-aways. Uncle Hec and  Ricky must decide if they continue on the run keeping one-step ahead of the  authorities or be respectable and turn themselves in. They first decide to have  a little fun with the authorities and see how far their adventure will take  them. If captured, they'll choose to suffer the consequences no matter how severe.