This product of the New Zealand Film Commission’s Escalator scheme showcases the remarkable screen presence of actress Sophie Henderson.
Producers: Sarah Cook, Matt Noonan
Screenplay: Sophie Henderson
Photography: Ian McCarroll
Editor: Richard Shaw
Production designer: Brant Fraser
Costume designer: Kylie Cooke
Sound: Dick Reade
Music: Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper
With: Sophie Henderson (Tania), Stephen Lovatt (Rog), Jarod Rawiri (Dean), Jahalis Ngamotu (Pi), Vinnie Bennett (Bigman)
Playing Tania, a feisty young petrol station attendant figuring out her place in the world with F.A. help from anyone else, Auckland writer-actress Sophie Henderson is mesmerising. Proving exactly the kind of big-screen discovery the Film Commission’s Escalator low-budget scheme was surely intended to nourish, Fantail was developed from her one-woman stage piece in collaboration with her husband, first-time director Curtis Vowell. Though she looks as fair as any pākehā, Tania has grown up Māori and wants to keep it that way. She looks after her ailing mother by day and works the graveyard shift at the station, saving money to take her little brother Piwakawaka to Surfers to find the man they both call dad. When she’s not covering up for her sweetly discombobulated boss, she’s fending off the by-the-book regional manager, who’s kind of cute despite himself. But when young Pi falls in with the wrong kids, the extent of her vulnerability is horribly exposed.