Red carpet premiere of ‘Wendy’ on Saturday

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Film buffs will be treated to the first local screening of eagerly anticipated new movie ‘Wendy’ – partly shot in Antigua and featuring a young local actor as a leading character – at a special premiere this Saturday.

Preparations are in full swing for the glitzy red carpet event being staged at the Hodges Bay Resort. The movie’s stars and crew, along with visiting VIPs and dignitaries, are among the 300 invited guests.

The Fox Searchlight film is a reimagined version of JM Barrie’s classic children’s book Peter Pan, and features Antiguan boy Yashua Mack as Peter.

Yashua will be in attendance to meet and greet fans, along with Devin France who plays Wendy and the movie’s acclaimed director Benh Zeitlin.

Film Commissioner Bert Kirchner told Observer the film was a coup for the twin island nation and would likely encourage more big-league directors to consider Antigua when looking for filming locations.

‘Wendy’ opened in the US last month and has received rave reviews for its striking cinematography. Local viewers will recognise landmarks including rock formation Hell’s Gate.

The bulk of the film was shot on neighbouring Montserrat. Yashua – who had never acted before and is the first black Peter Pan in a major movie – has also been praised for his talent.

Zeitlin, who directed 2012’s Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild, told US media he chose Mack due to his innate ability to find the character.

“Seeing this little boy drop into character was one of the most shocking things I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Zeitlin said. “He just inherently understood how to perform.”

Kirchner said the movie “could mean a whole new future” for the boy who was discovered in Antigua’s Rastafarian Nyabinghi community at the age of five.

“He acted fantastic in the movie; he’s young and hopefully other producers and directors will see him and maybe he will be off to a great career,” Kirchner said. He added that efforts are underway to bring ‘Wendy’ to Caribbean Cinemas in Antigua this summer.

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