NZIFF first web series Rūrangi is a heartfelt trans-celebratory drama

Rūrangi is part of this year’s NZIFF homegrown offering and it’s powerful, relevant, and full of soul. It’s the first web series to be part of the Festival with all five episodes of season 1 packaged as a binge-watch in its world premiere on Sunday 26 July, 7 pm at the ASB Waterfront, and available online from July 27-Aug 1.

This five-part web series is beautifully acted, written and directed by Elz Carrad, Cole Meyers and Max Currie respectively. You’re immediately drawn into a story set in everyday Auckland and nearby milk country – not only because of the sexual politics involved but because the characters are carefully drawn, visceral and real in their struggles.

Caz (Elz Carrad), a young trans activist, ran away from Rūrangi and from his father Gerald (Kirk Torrance), over 10 years ago, pre-transition. Personal loss and a sense of not being able to look after himself let alone those that look to him for support, drives him, hesitantly, back to home ground. Much has changed in the interim, people and places are not as he left but the question of if he can find a place here remains throughout the five episodes.

Skillfully written with a light touch, the story challenges through its premise and structure, with an engaging ensemble cast that pulls you in and keeps you gipped. You quickly come to understand and care about these people and each step along the line of the story feels sure-footed and compelling.

Elz Carrad is incredibly impressive in his screen debut, giving a subtle and captivating performance. Kirk Torrance, as his father Gerald, and Arlo Green as Jem also shine alongside Carrad who so effortlessly carries this deeply personal story to us.

Entirely Kiwi in its roots and unapologetic in its voice, this series operates on a number of levels – sexual, political and environmental and it’s all weaved together skillfully and brought to life by the excellent cast. I was completely enthralled, so I desperately want to know what happens next with these characters as I enjoyed my time with them immensely. I highly recommended checking this out next week or later online.

Reviewed by Mike Hales.

The NZIFF runs from 24th July until 3rd August both online and in cinemas.