Weighty role for a young ac­tress

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

At just 11 years old and with al­most no act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, An­gelina Cot­trell is mak­ing her big screen de­but.

Kiwi film The Weight of Ele­phants starts show­ing in cinemas from the end of Au­gust af­ter screen­ing at the New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

Based on an Aus­tralian novel it’s the story of a young boy with a des­per­ate home life who strug­gles with his own anx­i­eties af­ter three chil­dren from the small town where he lives go miss­ing.

An­gelina plays Ni­cole, who moves in next door to the boy, his men­tally ill un­cle and over­worked grand­mother, and a close friend­ship blos­soms be­tween the two young­sters.

The Mt Roskill girl was only 10 when she au­di­tioned for the part.

‘‘I had to go for 10 call­backs,’’ she says. ‘‘ The cast­ing pro­ducer said he knew it was me from about the sec­ond time, but they were just test­ing me out with other peo­ple.’’

The Waikowhai In­ter­me­di­ate School stu­dent has had no for­mal act­ing classes and her ex­pe­ri­ence only stretched as far as ad­ver­tis­ing work and tele­vi­sion ex­tra roles.

‘‘The movie was quite dif­fer­ent be­cause the char­ac­ters are quite in­tense.

‘‘It was quite an emo­tional and deep movie, it was a lot to un­der­stand,’’ she says.

The Weight Of Ele­phants is di­rected by Kiwi Daniel Joseph Borgman and was shot last year in Otau­tau, a small set­tle­ment near In­ver­cargill.

An­gelina and her mother Bar­bara Peter­son re­lo­cated to South­land for the shoot. It meant two months off school for An­gelina who had to fit lessons with a tu­tor around six to eight-hour work­ing days.

The hard work didn’t stop af­ter film­ing and An­gelina and her mother spent weeks busk­ing around One­hunga to fund their trip to the movie’s world pre­miere at the Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val.

The New Zealand Film Com­mis­sion was only able to cover some of the costs.

‘‘Peo­ple were re­ally good, they’d stop and ask ques­tions about the movie. You could feel the com­mu­nity spirit,’’ Ms Peter­son says. ‘‘I think peo­ple like to see a girl from Mt Roskill do well.’’

It’s clear her down-toearth daugh­ter hasn’t been changed by her in­tro­duc­tion to a very adult world.

Even her earn­ings are be­ing put to good use. ‘‘I wanted to buy an iPhone but mum wouldn’t let me. I’ve saved up most of it.’’

An­gelina says there are no firm fu­ture plans, she’ll just see what comes up.


Ris­ing star: An­gelina Cot­trell is star­ring in The Weight of Ele­phants which is about to be re­leased in cinemas.

Visit cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see a trailer for The Weight of Ele­phants.

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