First New Zealand movie with Down syndrome actor in lead role premieres in Wellington

The first New Zealand movie with a Down syndrome actor in a lead role has premiered in Wellington.

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Poppy is a film all about finding independence and stars Libby Hunsdale in her first role on screen. Source: 1 NEWS

Shot on the Kapiti Coast, Poppy is the story of a young woman living with Down syndrome who refuses to be defined by her disability.

Her ambition to become an apprentice mechanic is stalled by her older brother, forcing her to take matters into her own hands.

The movie was in its final week of filming when the country’s Level 4 lockdown came into force last March, becoming the first local film to resume shooting when New Zealand returned to Level 2.

Nineteen-year-old Libby Hunsdale, who plays the starring role of Poppy, says the premiere has been a long time coming.

“It actually feels very, very amazing. I feel very grateful.”

It’s Libby’s first role on screen.

“For someone who hasn’t done this kind of thing before and I mean acting to a disciplined time schedule, she was amazing,” writer and director Linda Niccol said.

All the funds from the sold-out premiere at Wellington’s Roxy Cinema will help the Special Olympics Wellington team get to the National Summer Games in December.

“I know many Poppys,” says Special Olympics Wellington’s Paula Dixon.

“I have many in my team that are just as feisty and the same level of refusing to be defined by their disabilities.”

For anyone planning to watch the film, Hunsdale has an important message.

“I hope they accept that they do have those misconceptions of people with disabilities and that they have an open mind to people with disabilities because everyone has talent.”

Poppy is in selected cinemas around the country from Thursday.