Directed by Hamish Bennett
New Zealand
96 minutes
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This quietly powerful feature debut, told with warm humour, takes us into the heart of a small rural town in New Zealand, where a community comes together after a tragic death.

Ross (Marshall Napier) has farmed the land all his life, just as his father and grandfather did before him. A largely silent man, Ross farms the land alongside his far more exuberant wife Beth (Annie Whittle), who is an eager participant in the local choir and a friend to many. When Beth suddenly dies, Ross is crushed but incapable of displaying his emotions. His son Bruce (Cohen Holloway) moves back in and tries to help, but is not suited to the farming life and also has great difficulties in expressing himself. Around them, their friends realise the difficulties, and pitch in to help. Hamish Bennett says: “The characters of Bellbird were inspired by my childhood neighbours in the small rural Northland community of Tauraroa… You don't see many outward displays of affection or emotion, but this can't be mistaken for not caring. It's very much the opposite. The love, the loyalty, the reliance – it can all be found in the little moments, buried under the layers of cheeky banter and cow shit.” Along with his fine cast, Bennett expertly finds those little moments in this exquisite, gentle film.

Special Guest

Hamish Bennett
Director, Screenwriter
Hamish Bennett is a New Zealand based film-maker of Māori descent (Te Arawa, Ngapuhi, Kai Tahu) and a fulltime school teacher. He was raised in the rural Northland setting where Bellbird and his first two award-winning short films, The Dump and Ross and Beth, are set. Bellbird is his first feature film.


Tue 11 June
State Theatre
Past Event Cancel
Wed 12 June
State Theatre
Past Event Cancel
Program Strand
Official Competition, Focus on New Zealand, Festival Guests
New Zealand
In English
Hamish Bennett
Orlando Stewart, Catherine Fitzgerald
Marshall Napier, Cohen Holloway, Annie Whittle, Rachel House
Hamish Bennett
Grant McKinnon
Jason Pengelly
World Premiere
Environmental, Seniors, World Premiere, Comedy, First Nations
Company Credits
Distributor: Transmission Films
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