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Slow West

New Zealand | 2015 | 84 minutes | John Maclean

In this Coen-esque western filled with sly intelligence, bleak humor, and unsettling violence, a mysterious frontiersman on the run crosses paths with a naïve Scottish teenager on a quest to Colorado to rescue his girl.

May 16, 2015
SIFF Cinema Uptown Festival  
8:30 PM Date has passed
May 17, 2015
SIFF Cinema Egyptian  
4:30 PM Date has passed
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It’s a few years after the Civil War in Colorado and westward expansion continues full-throttle. A naïve, 16-year-old Scotsman named Jay (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road) stumbles along on his lovelorn quest to find his young sweetheart, Rose, who fled to America under mysterious circumstances. After being caught in a bind, Jay meets Silas (Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave), a taciturn frontiersman who agrees to guide the hapless teen—but for a price. As Jay and Silas continue west, meeting rogue elements of every ethnicity and nationality, their motivations are slowly revealed, adding tension to an already uneasy friendship. In director John Maclean’s unique Scottish/Kiwi interpretation of the American Western, the snowcapped crags of New Zealand—framed in vivid, painterly compositions—stand in for the Rockies of the 1870s, which he depicts as a menacing, nearly lawless land that is nevertheless quickly filling up with ambitious immigrants, some more cunning and cruel than others. Maclean subverts the “mismatched buddies” road genre by focusing as much on the consequences of violence as he does on the protagonists’ heroic narrative. Slow West, which won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, is a remarkably confident feature writing/directing debut for Maclean, who invigorates the brooding story with black humor, viscerally staged shoot-outs, and a refreshing outsider’s perspective on the effects of “manifest destiny.”

Director Biography
Scottish artist John Maclean studied drawing and painting in Edinburgh and London before creating music videos for two bands he formed, The Beta Band and The Aliens. Maclean directed his first shorts—Man on a Motorcycle(2009) and Pitch Black Heist (2011)—both featuring actor Michael Fassbender, who also stars in Maclean’s debut feature, Slow West (2015).

Sponsored by Cupcake Royale

Director: John Maclean
Principal Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Mendelsohn, Rory McCann, Brooke Williams
Country: New Zealand, United Kingdom
Year: 2015
Running Time: 84 minutes
Producer: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Conor McCaughan, Rachel Gardner
Screenplay: John Maclean, Michael Lesslie
Cinematographers: Robbie Ryan
Editors: Roland Gallois, Jon Gregory
Music: Jed Kurzel
Website: Official Film Website
Awards: Sundance Film Festival 2015 (World Cinema Grand Jury Prize)
Filmography: Debut Feature Film
Language: English
Format: DCP
International Sales: Hanway Films
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