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New Zealand Actor Dimitrius Schuster-Kolomatangi, Rising Star at Toronto International Film Festival 2021

News: 1 September 2021

New Zealand Film Commission media release.

Up and coming Aotearoa New Zealand actor, Dimitrius Schuster-Kolomatangi, was named today as a TIFF Rising Star at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Schuster-Kolomatangi stars as Will ‘Ilolahia in New Zealand mini-series The Panthers, created by Tom Hern (The Dark Horse, Shadow in the Cloud, Guns Akimbo) and Halaifonua Finau (Jonah) for Tavake and Four Knight Films, which will premiere on Friday in the festivals Primetime selection.

Photo of actor Dimitrius Schuster-Kolomatangi is courtesy of the New Zealand Film Commission.

Celebrating its 10th year, the TIFF Rising Stars programme provides up-and-coming actors with an exclusive opportunity to experience and engage with the Festival. They will have access to professional development sessions, Industry events, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Previous rising stars include Golden Globe winner Stephan James, Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany, Jessie and New Zealand actor Vinnie Bennett.

The Panthers retells the story of how the Polynesian Panther Party was founded in 1970s Aotearoa New Zealand and follows Schuster-Koloamtangi’s character Will ’Ilolahia, co-head of the Panthers, who can no longer stand idly by and watch his community be ignored and mistreated by a broken system headed by the newly elected prime minister. The series debuted in New Zealand on TVNZ on August 15 ahead of its international premiere this week in Toronto.

Endeavour Content will handle ROW sales for the series, which was commissioned for TVNZ (New Zealand) and funded by NZ On Air. Hern and Finau exec produced with Will 'Ilolahia, James Napier Robertson, Kini Roy Earley, Crystal Vaega, Timēna Apa, Jaunnie 'Ilolahia and Luciane Buchanan producing. Directors include Miki Magasiva, Tom Hern, Vea Mafile’o, Mario Faumui, and Chris Graham.

Co-Producer Crystal Vaega had this to say about the news, “It makes us feel overwhelmed and excited that Dimitrius has been acknowledged in being selected in this programme in his first ever lead role, but we are not surprised. It is a remarkable opportunity for him and sets him on a great trajectory for his career.” 

Schuster-Koloamatangi appears alongside well-known actors Beulah Koale (Thank You For Your Service), Frankie Adams (Mortal Engines) and Roy Billing (The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader) and fellow newcomer Lealani Siaosi.

Updated on 2nd September 2021