Indigenous | Actor

NZ transgender series to debut at film festival

Ground-breaking transgender series Rūrangi is set to debut at this year's New Zealand International Film Festival.

Rūrangi is written and produced by transgender people and stars Elz Carrard, a transgender and trans-activist whose character returns to his hometown to reconnect with his past.

Carrard stars as Caz Davis, who flees his rural dairy community, but looks to reconnect with his father who he hadn’t heard from since before his transition.

The intent for reconciliation with his father is to heal, but he finds himself swept up in the environmental fight dividing the town.

"Caz leaves [Rūrangi] as a teen. Since residing in Auckland he's transitioned and becomes a hero in the transgender community." Carrard tells Tapatahi.

“It was a script I instantly connected with.”

Carrard, who identifies as male, says there are similarities between himself and his character as they are both Māori and from rural communities.

“I think another big similarity between the two of us is the journey we’ve had, coming from small towns and coming to a new city to finally embrace who we are.”

“Coming home to declare that this is who I am, it’s very powerful.”

Life on set

Carrard has a musical and entertainment background despite doubts about becoming an actor.

Rūrangi is his first feature and he described it as “very intense.”

“Our casting director said this is quite full-on and 'make sure you take time out for yourself'.”

“You give so much of yourself, your wairua, your well-being, your tinana.”

Carrard says Rūrangi is “very Kiwi”, which can appeal to local audiences.

His ambition to pursue acting is one of many things keeping him afloat during the global pandemic and economic crisis.

“I’m one of the thousands of people who were made redundant,” he says. “Between looking for work, I’m also just focusing on the craft and looking after my family.”

Carrard says he aims to head for Hollywood.