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New Zealand Actor Cliff Curtis On How His New Film Muru Responds To Real Events

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Tame Iti plays himself. He’s the guy they were after in real life. What was behind the decision to have Tame play himself in the film?

He is such an iconic, unique and special individual human being. I met him about 15 years before the events of the riots. He was a restaurateur; He was a DJ at a local radio station. He made dance collaborations, painting, sculpture, [and] Theater events coordinated by activists. I thought, “Wow. Okay.” Even his own likeness, his own face and the way he presents himself, the way he dresses, the hats he wears – a lot of the things he wears in the film are all his own. He’s so theatrical in life. Try to tell me who you’ll find to play this guy. There was no choice but him.

Is Taffy, your character, based on a real person or is he an amalgamation?

I spoke to the community officer who was living in the valley at the time of the raids and had no idea what was going on, which puts him in a very vulnerable position in relation to the people he serves in his community because he is a loner Cop, alone, he and his wife and kids in a house in the middle of the valley. They say, “What’s up?” He did not know. He honestly didn’t know. He found out at 5:00 a.m. It was called. He found out in the middle of the night, and then it happened. It’s based on the actual relationship the police had with the cops, [that] the institution had with that person.

I also spoke to other police officers from the area who had served in the area to see how they worked. How do you arrest a family member? How you do that? It works by consent because a police officer in this community must have the consent of the elders. That’s actually how it works. That’s how it works. You need the respect and approval of the community, the families of this valley, to be a cop, otherwise you’d be screwed.



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