Slow West

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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.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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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