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Robert Sarkies (born 1969) is a New Zealand film director and scriptwriter.
Sarkies grew up in the South Island city of Dunedin, and his two feature films released to date have been set in Dunedin, or close by. He began making short films as a teenager with fellow filmmaker Simon Perkins. After winning an international award for his short Dream-makers, Sarkies began work on his most ambitious short to date: the adventure comedy Signing Off (1996), which won four international awards and helped attract funding for Scarfies(1999), Sarkies' feature film debut.
Sarkies co-wrote the Scarfies script with his younger brother, playwright and performer Duncan Sarkies. Winner of seven awards including Best Picture and Best Director at the NZ Film Awards, the film is part comedy, part thriller, and partly a celebration of being a university student in Dunedin. Scarfies was later released on video in the United States under the title Crime 101.
Sarkies' second feature is the true-life thriller Out of the Blue based on the 1990 Aramoana Massacre, in which a gunman killed thirteen people in a seaside town not far from Dunedin. The film emphasizes realism over melodrama, partly through handheld camerawork and a naturalistic acting style. Some of those living in Aromoana expressed opposition to the film being made; others who lost people in the tragedy agreed to do interviews with scriptwriters Sarkies and Graeme Tetley.
In New Zealand, Out of the Blue went on to become the tenth most successful local film yet released theatrically (not accounting for inflation), and win six Qantas Film and Television Awards in September 2008, including "Best Picture - budget over $1 million". As of October 2008, Out of the Blue's rating on critics' website Rotten Tomatoes was 91 per cent.
Before the making of Out of the Blue, the Sarkies brothers worked together on the script for a fantasy film called The Magnificent Magic Fingers. The budget for Magic Fingers was estimated to be at least NZ$20 million. It is not yet clear whether Magic Fingers will join Peter Jackson's unmade Blubberhead as one of the great fantasy films that never quite emerged from down under.
In 2010, the TV series This Is Not My Life, directed by Sarkies, debuted on New Zealand Television. Hopefully Robert will be considering a major role for Andy Faulkner, who he directed to great comedic effect in a 2006 TVC for Ford Fairmont Ghia.
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