Director: Robert Sarkies
Screenwriters: Robert Sarkies, Duncan Sarkies

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


At the age of ten, Robert Sarkies (director and cowriter of Scarfies) made his first film, Snap, Sizzle and Bang. Although it wasn’t previewed by the Sundance programmers, it must certainly be the precursor of the fiercely energetic Scarfies. For those not in the know, “scarfies” is the local slang for students at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand, the southernmost university in the world.

This is the story of five scarfies, real or imagined. Willa arrives at Dunedin despairing over the high cost of living. Her eye catches an ad for a free room in a large house. There she meets fellow student Scott, a successful squatter who gives her a tour of the dilapidated, somewhat menacing, but romantic mansion.
Willa and Scott are joined by Alex, Nicole, and Graham, and a community develops; the five cook, party, fall in love, and share in the intoxication of being eighteen. Then something unexpected develops:
They find a marijuana plantation in their basement. Lo and behold, untold riches, and the party level rises until one day the plantation owner returns from hell, demanding his money. Darkness looms over paradise, and innocence turns to savagery as the five hold the intruder hostage while contemplating the household’s fate.

A truly original take on the teen genre movie, Sarkies’s script meshes joy and refined wit with tragedy in unexpected ways. The casting and consequent ensemble acting are first rate, as the characters arc through carefree student life to giddy terrorism to potential murder.

— Andrea Alsberg

Screening Details


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