POPPY, the girl with a little bit extra
A spirited young woman with Down syndrome assumes she’s entitled to live a life like anyone else, yet the person she trusts most puts her in the “disability” box forcing her to take control of her destiny and to eventually exceed even her own goals.
Poppy is held back from life by her brother Dave and by the perceptions of those who don’t know her. Her guardian since the death of their parents in a car accident, Dave is overwhelmed, by the responsibility; his unhappy inertia contrasting with the positivity and quiet determination of his sister. But his sullen reticence proves no match for her common sense, direct way of speaking and emotional honesty.
When Dave’s underestimation of her abilities and his need to protect her from disappointment and failure frustrate her plans to become a motor mechanic Poppy is forced to find support where she can and to employ secret strategies to achieve her goal of an independent life.
In a quietly observational style, the film makes the point that everyone has the right to fulfil their potential.
Funded through the Film Commission’s 125 Fund celebrating the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, POPPY is a female driven project with a strong and inspirational female lead played by an equally strong and inspiring young woman with Down syndrome.
Linda Niccol’s joyful tribute to a young woman with a disability who won’t take no for an answer was 10 years in development before receiving recognition by the New Zealand Film Commission and subsequently TVNZ and NZ On Air.
POPPY was filmed in Kapiti both before and after lockdown in 2020. It was the first New Zealand film to resume production under Level 2 Covid Health and Safety protocols, making headlines in US movie magazine ‘Variety’.
DAVE is Poppy’s “super grouchy” brother. Ari Boyland will be familiar to NZ audiences of The Tribe, Power Rangers, Shortland Street. An accomplished and experienced actor, he was a generous collaborator on POPPY. Ari is recently returned from Australia where he was cast in SBS series The Unusual Suspects.
LUKE is played by newcomer Seb Hunter, a singer/songwriter/actor who completely fitted the bill for the role of Poppy’s ex-schoolfriend with career and disability challenges of his own. Seb composed and performed his own songs on the film’s soundtrack.
POPPY in the form of Libby Hunsdale was “discovered” via a nationwide search for a young woman with Down syndrome to play this leading role. Libby immediately connected with Poppy and her struggle to achieve her goals and to live life on her own terms.
SOPHIA befriends Poppy when she registers for her provisional drivers’ licence – and, played by Kali Kopae, she becomes the focus of Poppy’s match-making attempts. Kali is known to New Zealand audiences for Colonial Combat and The Dead Lands and has two projects in post-production Whina and Northspur.