Kiwi-made doco on MMA star Israel Adesanya to premiere in New York

April 26, 2023

Kiwi-made doco on MMA star Israel Adesanya to premiere in New York

The first look image of documentary STYLEBENDER, produced by creative production company, Fluroblack and distributed by independent distribution collective, Ahi. Image: Supplied.

An 'up-close and personal' film on Kiwi world champion MMA fighter Israel Adesanya will premiere at New York's Tribeca Film Festival this June.

New Zealand-made documentary Stylebender gives a look into the world of the Nigerian-born, Aotearoa-raised Adesanya who only three weeks ago reclaimed the UFC world middleweight champion title with a second-round KO against long-time rival Alex Pereira.

Producer Fraser Brown says “we started making the film almost five years ago, when Israel was barely known outside the MMA world.

“He’s literally become a global superstar in front of Zöe’s lens and his honesty and vulnerability has been extraordinary,” says Brown.

Director Zöe McIntosh says she 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.”

“My goal was always to get under the gloss and hype to unlock the poetry, emotion and contradictions inherent in Israel,” says McIntosh.

This feature documentary is a poignant examination of the complex, exciting, and sometimes controversial figure known as 'The Last Stylebender,’ exploring themes of masculinity, bullying, mental health - and the healing power of dance.

With New Zealand filmmakers at the helm, Stylebender, directed by Zöe Mcintosh (Dark Tourist) alongside producers Fraser Brown (McLaren, Dawn Raid), Leela Menon (Dawn Raid, Mothers of a Revolution) and Tom Blackwell (Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%!), will premiere at Tribeca with Adesanya and entourage in tow.

As well as local attendees, the festival can also be watched online.

Over 60 per cent of films in the festival line up are by female filmmakers, including Kiwi director Zöe McIntosh. Image: Sara Hewson.

Over 60 per cent of films in the festival line up are by female filmmakers, including director Zöe McIntosh. Image: Sara Hewson.

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