Taika Waititi is a director with a very original mind. In his homeland New Zealand, he’s known foremost as a stand-up comedian. But Taika also directs, writes and paints. We met him at the 2007 International Film Festival Rotterdam, where he presented his first feature film, ‘Eagle vs Shark’ – an offbeat romantic comedy featuring two socially inept misfits. The soft spoken and romantic Lily, who works the counter at a fast food chain, has a secret crush on Jarrod, a tough looking geek/hero wannabe who works at the local electronics store. Jarrod doesn’t show any interest in Lily at first. But that changes when Lily beats everyone at a Fightman Kill-A-Thon video game tournament at a costume party at Jarrod’s house. Everyone came dressed up as their favorite animal. (Jarrod to Lily in a shark costume: “I almost came as a shark, but then I realized that an eagle is slightly better”). ‘Eagle Vs Shark’ is a sensitive film, made with a great eye for detail, for the time period (small town in New Zealand in the 80s) and respect for the characters. Taika’s New Zealand style humor – comedy mixed with tragedy and pain is refreshing.
Interview by Alexander Oey.