Hollywood on the Potomac
“I saw a documentary about Genesis. It was not very well known, but I was immediately struck by how incredible and articulate and intelligent yet complex and almost contradictory he was as a person, as a character. I thought he’d make a most remarkable character to try and capture in a 2 hour narrative of the film,” writer-director James Napier Robertson told Hollywood on the Potomac at a screening at MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) in conjunction with the Embassy of New Zealand. The film is “The Dark Horse” based on the true story of Genesis Potini, a brilliant chess champion struggling with mental illness who searches for purpose and finds it in passing on his gift to children in his community. The Maori people, a unique culture that holds its roots in New Zealand, are a key focus of the film, giving audiences a glimpse into their lives.
“I was in LA at the time when I saw it. My producer had sent it to me. I immediately booked my flights and flew back to New Zealand and went down to Gizban and met with Genesis,” Robertson added. “Very quickly after meeting with him, we sat down across a chess board. Fortunately for me, I played chess since I was a kid. I was able to lose, but lose not too quickly. I think that earned me a bit of respect from him and kind of kicked off our relationship. From there, over the next year, we’ve played hundreds of games of chess. We just talked all about his life, his experiences, his philosophies about the world. While we were doing this I started writing the screenplay. I think that my first unpredictable and messy and challenging in a way, particularly for someone like Genesis, chess was a way of finding order within the world. That structure within it, but of course, you can’t ignore the real world for that long. I guess in a way that’s what my film is about. As far as, also, that thing of having a singular focus, I think film can be that same for me just as something like chess could be at someone like Genesis. I think in a way we all benefit from having some sort of passion or something that we love that we. For someone like Genesis, chess was a way of finding order within the world. That structure within it, but of course, you can’t ignore the real world for that long. I guess in a way that’s what my film is about.”
“It’s between us and another country,” remarked Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe at the Residence of Ambassador and Mrs. Sasae in honor of the business relationship between Virginia and Japan and in particular about parking a huge Canon facility there. “I think it should come to The United States of America,” he added referring to the Canon bid..”The Japanese have a lot of choices about where you take your business. My only argument would be that if you are thinking about The United States of America, there is only really one State – The Commonwealth of Virginia is the best. Forget those other 49. We are very low taxed, we are very business friendly. We have 28 miles of ocean front down in Virginia Beach. We don’t have sharks, we have Dolphins who come and pick up your children who give them rides in the ocean and bring them back!”
One thing you can count on if if you put Governor McAuliffe together on the same platform with Ambassador Sasae, it’s going to be like a comedy hour. ““Tonight you will feel at home at the buffet table. We have ham from Richmond and chicken and eggs from Rappahannock County. The Saki, which on occasion I have been known to enjoy a bit too much, is from Japan. If we had found some Virginia Saki, we would have served that too. But tonight, our purpose is very simple – to enjoy ourselves and to promote the growing friendship between Japan and The Commonwealth of Virginia.”
It’s a good thing that Matthew Wright has Urban Cowboy good looks, swagger and an Aussie accent – otherwise we’d probably skip an invite to a backyard barbecue at his place in Australia – you never know what you’ll run into. According to Wright, who was the guest of honor at the Residence of Australian Ambassador and Mrs. Joe Hockey, that would most likely include wildlife, reptiles, snakes, and anything that crawls and slithers.
“Growing up,” he told Hollywood on the Potomac, “I was into fishing and just loved getting out there and catching a lot of deadly snakes when I was about six……..brown snakes. That sort of drove mum a little bit mad; but she taught me right from wrong when working with wildlife. We had our own farm animals, but she didn’t like me dealing with the deadly ones that were always present as a young kid. We lived in Papua, New Guinea for about nine months and I was off with the locals there catching sea snakes. These are some of the deadliest snakes in the world but you don’t have fear when you’re a kid. She understood that and tried to keep me safe and keep me away from it all so we did a few deals together. I could have my own pet snakes that weren’t deadly if I would stop catching. So it’s pretty much from that drive I had when I was a kid just growing up that it developed into bigger and better things. Now I collect crocodile eggs and fly choppers for four months of the year. That’s just finished now. I think I did my last few days last week. Other times of the year, I’m catching and I’m moving large crocs throughout the northern territory.”
The occasion for the celebration at the Ambassador’s residence was Season Two of Nat Geo WILD’s Outback Wrangler……that would be Wright. “It‘s our own production,” he told us. “We did the first season with Nat Geo of Outback Wrangler and the second season as well. But now we run the production; so myself and Nick and Ash, who are business partners. are in the middle of filming the third season. Nat Geo has partnered with us to do that production as well.”