If you were to take a 1990s Jim Carrey, send him to the present, and turn him into an accomplished director, you might get filmmaker Taika Waititi.  Perhaps the most personal of Waititi’s films (which include the 2017 smash Thor: Ragnarok), Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the fifth film in our Resilience Film Series and will be showing on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. in Stark Hall’s Miller Auditorium. The film is rated PG-13, and admission is free and open to the public.

Taika Waititi’s name is still just short of popular recognition, but his star is growing, and he will soon be one of the most sought-after directors in the world. And for good reason, too: his surefire direction and storytelling prowess mixed with his trademark zaniness make any project he undertakes an absolute joy to experience. This impressive set of skills has also earned him acclaim with the people he has worked with. Wilderpeople co-star Sam Neill (of Jurassic Park fame) once wrote that Waititi deserved New Zealander of the Year for his contribution to the arts community. Waitit’s cast and crew members have all commented on the positive work ethic he brings to the sometimes mundane and energy-draining task of filmmaking.

Dir. Taika Waititi on set of Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Breakout star of Hunt for the Wilderpeople Julian Dennison (best known for his role in the 2018 film Deadpool 2) is another force to be reckoned with. The fourteen-year-old actor approaches his role of foster child Ricky Baker with a sincere dedication. He never suffers from the pitfalls which plague adolescent actors, and delivers a thoughtful performance that gives audiences a glimpse into the mind of a troubled youth. His comedic timing is also a terrific foil to Sam Neill’s cantankerous senior “Uncle” Hec Faulkner, Baker’s reluctant foster father who is suffering from the recent loss of his wife.

Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is ultimately a story about companionship, and how even the most jaded people—like Neill’s Faulkner—are capable of developing bonds with relatively new additions to their lives, as is the case with Baker. A theme of resilience develops over time as Baker and Faulkner end up on a wild goose chase with the police, who have come to the conclusion that the mourning and mentally unstable Faulkner has abducted Baker. With the only person in his life now gone, Faulkner desires to return to the only place he feels significant: the forest. Baker, on the other hand, sees Faulkner as the closest thing he will ever have to a family, and decides to stick by his side after some initial apprehension.

Hec and Ricky in the New Zealand wilderness

Waititi has created a film that will leave an audience belly-laughing, but also feeling for the characters they just spent the past hour-and-a-half getting to know. If there’s one thing people should take away from Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it’s that every person deserves a chance at a peaceful existence. It may take a degree of resilience to achieve it, but depending on the circumstances, everybody deserves a chance at redemption.
Hunt for the Widerpeople is showing on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 7 pm in Miller Auditorium (Stark 103) on the Winona State University Campus. Admission is free and open to all. Hope to see you there!