As Thor Ragnarok has wrapped and slowly begins to make its way to theaters by November of 2017, and as his hilarious What We Do in the Shadows satire has made it to Amazon Prime, it is well-worth noting that Indigenous filmmaker Taika Waititi was named 2017 New Zealander of the Year at the end of February.
Taika Waititi is of Maori descent. His work includes an Academy Award nomination for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night. His feature films Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople each became New Zealand's top grossing films, and What We Do in the Shadows, a hilarious movie about a group of vampires received overwhelming international praise.
Taika Waititi also played the role of Thomas Kalmaku, a talented Inuit mechanic, in Marvel’s Green Lantern, one of the few Native American characters in mainstream American comics.
On February 22, the chief judge of the New Zealander of the Year Awards Cameron Bennett, announced the award and said Taika Waititi “is an exciting and inspiring example of who and what we are as Kiwis.
"Creative, courageous, audacious, subversive and downright funny, he's at the forefront of New Zealand filmmaking and the arts," said Bennett on the TVNZ news site. "His films represent the importance of whanau, of belonging and the challenges facing youth at the margins of society."
Since Taika Waititi could not be present at the awards presentation, he recorded a video acceptance speech.
"I just found out the news. Wow, amazing. Thank you so much. I couldn't be more proud. It's a privilege to receive this award and I accept it humbly and gratefully.”
True to his comic form, Waititi also said the video was a cry for help and that he was trapped in Los Angeles.
"This is actually a cry for help, this video. I need you guys to come and get me, they won't let me out. You know they wanted me to say that they're treating me well. The meals are too big and everything's too loud here, the accents, it's horrible. So come and get me, please,” Waititi says in the video.
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