DCA Film Club Week 3: Taika Waititi's Two Cars, One Night


16 April 2020

Welcome to week 3 of DCA Film Club! We'll be recommending great films to watch at home, before meeting in our Facebook group or your preferred social media to chat about the film using #DCAFilmClub!

DCA Film Club sees our Head of Cinema Alice talk about our favourite filmmakers by looking at their short films. We hope they will inspire you to go off and watch something else, be it online or at a cinema near you (when it reopens of course). You can read Alice's full introduction to DCA Film Club here.

For her third pick, Alice has chosen Two Cars, One Night (2004) from New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi: 

Long before Taika Waititi became a household name with films like Hunt For The Wilderpeople, What We Do In the Shadows, Thor Ragnarok, and Jojo Rabbit, we were already singing his praises. It’s been a great source of joy for the DCA cinema team to watch his career go from strength to strength and for a wider audience to discover what we love so much about his work. No matter what the subject, Waititi’s trademark oddball humour, warmth, sharp intelligent storytelling and of course, great soundtracks are always there. But in between the laughs, there are also life lessons about tolerance and accepting difference which infuse all his work. Watching one of Waititi's films is like having a pint with an old mate who cajoles you into feeling that the world isn’t so bad after all. And more than anything, that’s maybe what we need right now. 

"In between the laughs, there are also life lessons about tolerance..."

Waititi (sometimes credited as Taika Cohen) is of Te-Whānau-ā-Apanui descent and was born on the East Coast of New Zealand, the son of a school teacher and an artist. Waititi graduated from Victoria University in 1996, with a degree in Theatre and Film. Part of a burgeoning comedy scene in Wellington which included Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement, Waititi began making his own films when he started tiring of the roles he was being offered as an actor, deciding to have a go at making "my own stories".

Waititi began winning attention and awards with the comical shorts he directed and acted in for the yearly 48 Hour film contest, but this week’s Film Club selection Two Cars, One Night, made in 2004, was his first professional production. Two Cars won a boot-full of awards, launched Waititi’s career, and was the second New Zealand short to be nominated for an Academy Award. Waititi infamously feigned sleep during the 2005 ceremony.

"Cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship."

Youngsters Romeo, Ed, and Polly wait in two cars after dark while their parents are inside drinking. It’s a situation many Kiwis would recognise: cars without parents outside the bar or rugby club. Soon cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship. The subtle natural performances from all the young cast, the tender mix of comedy and romance and the universality of first love, saw the tale of a Te Kaha pub carpark become an international hit.

Check out our film chat about Two Cars, One Night in our  DCA Film Club Facebook group (from Tuesday 21 April). Feel free share your thoughts and impressions with us at any time, along with your own must-watch movie tips - we'd love to hear from you!

Where to go next?

The original press kit produced for Two Cars, One Night offers some interesting insight in Waititi’s motivation for making the film.

His second short Tama Tu made in 2005 - A squad of Maori troops in WWII Europe silently entertain themselves in a destroyed house while waiting to enter the coming battle.

Waititi’s feature films  are all available to rent on the usual platforms VOD services.  Check them out:

Eagle vs Shark
What We Did In the Shadows
Thor Ragnarok
Joio Rabbit 

Not long after finishing his first feature Boy, Waititi gave this TED talk about creativity, and in 2018, he did a public Masterclass at Toronto International Film Festival.

A more recent interview from the Guardian where Waititi talks about making his latest feature Jojo Rabbit but it also summarises how he tackles difficult subjects through humour.

Academic powerhouse Kristin Thompson charts how Waititi went from indie filmmaker to Marvel darling.

And then finally.... who made arguably the best safety demonstration video ever for an airline? Yes, Waititi again!

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