Based on the novel by celebrated New Zealand author Patricia Grace, “Cousins” tells the story of three women bound by ancestry and separated by time. The film was helmed by Māori filmmaking duo Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith and debuted at number one at New Zealand’s box office when it was released earlier this year. Gardiner is best known as producer on the early films by Taika Waititi, including his acclaimed directorial debut “Eagle vs Shark.” Both Gardiner and Grace-Smith directed segments of the critically beloved 2017 drama “Waru,” which was directed cooperatively.
Here’s the official synopsis: “‘Cousins’ follows three Māori cousins—Mata, Missy and Makareta—who lead separate lives, yet are bound together forever. Orphaned Mata believes she has no whānau (family) and lives out her lonely childhood in fear and bewilderment. Back home on the land in New Zealand, driven and educated Makareta flees an arranged marriage to study law and begin the search for her missing cousin. She leaves behind cheeky yet dutiful Missy who takes on her role of kaitiaki (guardian) of the land. As the years pass and land surveyors begin to encroach, their promise to bring their stolen cousin home seems more unlikely than ever, until a chance encounter changes everything.”
The ensemble cast includes Rachel House (“Moana,” “Thor: Ragnarok”), Tanea Heke (“No. 2”), co-director Briar Grace Smith (“Waru”), Ana Scotney (“The Breaker Upperers”), Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne (“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”), Hariata Moriarty (“Savage”), Mihi Te Rauhi Daniels, Te Raukura Gray, and Keyahne Patrick-Williams.
“’Cousins’ is a beautiful story exploring identity, culture and family that goes beyond borders and time,” said ARRAY president Tilane Jones in a statement accompanying the acquisition. “Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith have crafted an impassioned adaptation of Patricia Grace’s classic novel that allows insight and understanding into the Māori culture, as well as the injustice faced by many indigenous groups.”
ARRAY released “Cousins” theatrically in the U.S. on July 2, and the film will debut in North America and the UKIE on Netflix on July 22. Check out the film’s newest trailer, available exclusively on IndieWire, below.