Stylebender, directed by DEGANZ Incubator alum Zoe McIntosh, will premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Out of the 28 documentaries in the programme, this is one of the 19 female-directed features.
Zoe, well known for her work on Netflix’s docu-series Dark Tourist and her short The World in Your Window, strikes again with this moving and inspirational story. The film follows Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesanya, a Nigerian-born New Zealand-based MMA fighter and recent UFC middleweight champ, through his tumultuous life and career path.
Israel reveals his internal struggles of trying to become the man he has always wanted to be despite his demons. Through the healing power of dance, Zoe and Israel explore themes of masculinity, mental health, and the consequences of bullying. With production starting in 2018, before Israel’s rise to fame, his personal and career growth unravel right before the lens.
In a statement to NZFC, Zoe shares:
My goal was always to get under the gloss and hype to unlock the poetry, emotion, and contradictions inherent in Israel. I wanted to make a film that spoke not only to MMA fans but to a wider audience who would connect with Israel’s authenticity and the importance of being your own ‘freaky’ self.
Tribeca Film Festival is an annual event founded by Robert De Niro, featuring about 600 screenings. Zoe will attend the festival with support from the New Zealand Film Commission.
Last updated on 20 April 2023