Born in Wellington, New Zealand, James Napier Robertson began as an actor in theatre and television before writing and directing a number of short films in his early twenties, followed by his debut feature film, I’M NOT HARRY JENSON, starring Ian Mune, Ilona Rodgers and Marshall Napier. Garnering critical acclaim for his direction of performance, mood and dialogue, I’M NOT HARRY JENSON was released theatrically in New Zealand in 2009 and nominated for Best Picture at the 2009 New Zealand Film Awards, The Dominion Post calling it “The first New Zealand-made thriller in years that’s actually worthy of the name.”
Napier Robertson’s fascination with dysfunctional, outsider characters and social disorientation underpinned the dramatic tension of the film, a theme he continued to explore in his next film, THE DARK HORSE, starring Cliff Curtis and James Rolleston, based on the true life story of bipolar chess player Genesis Potini. A long-time chess player himself, Napier Robertson played hundreds of games with Genesis while studying his struggles with mental illness and working on the script.
Opening the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival before premiering at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, THE DARK HORSE was a commercial and critical hit, receiving 5 star reviews from all major critics and grossing over $2 million at the New Zealand Box Office. The Australian called it “outstanding…a work of the highest artistic excellence”, Variety stated it “exceptional…the most
deserving cinematic export to emerge from New Zealand in years”, and the National Radio Review declared it “one of the greatest New Zealand films ever made”. Napier Robertson won New Filmmaker of the Year at the 2014 Spada Awards and Best Screenplay at the 2014 New Zealand Writers Guild Awards, and THE DARK HORSE went on to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Score at the 2014 New Zealand Film Awards.
In 2015, THE DARK HORSE was released theatrically worldwide and continued winning awards internationally, including winning Best Film at Rotterdam International Film Festival 2015, Seattle International Film Festival 2015, San Francisco International Film Festival 2015, Washington DC International Film Festival 2015, Dublin International Film Festival 2015, Asia Pacific Film Awards, Art
Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival 2015. In 2016 it was released theatrically in the U.S. by Broad Green Pictures (presented by James Cameron), and in late 2016 was formally screened at the White House for then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Napier Robertson is currently writing and directing on Australian mini-series ROMPER STOMPER (Roadshow Productions), New Zealand mini-series THE PANTHERS (Four Knights Film), and feature films THE SEVENTH SYMPHONY and THE BALLERINA (both produced by Anonymous Content).
He is represented by ANONYMOUS CONTENT in Los Angeles.