2013: A YEAR IN REVIEW
WOW! WHAT A BIG YEAR for Native film makers and film making all around the World!
The Wairoa Maori Film Festival kicked off at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, and then took Maori short films to art house venues in Invercargill, Auckland and Wellington (Te Papa). We once again curated the "Nga Whanaunga" Maori Pasifika programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), which played in the four main centres. And for the first time we took Maori films overseas: to Hamburg, Finland, Fiji, and to a new joint venture in Oz - the Aotearoa Maori Film Festival of Australia.
The Wairoa Maori Film Festival was once again a truly special event held at the historic Kahungunu Marae with guests sleeping in the marae and at boutique farm accommodation at Morere Hot Springs.
We hosted journalists from France, Germany and New Caledonia, who wrote international news articles and made a documentary on New Zealand short film making that screened this month in Germany and France.
Our international VIP guests included Auraeus Solito, indigenous Palawan film maker from the Philippines who has won awards in Berlin and whose most recent film BUSONG screened at Cannes, and Jenny Fraser, digital native and aboriginal arts visionary from Australia.
Guests from across Aotearoa included a delegation from the Peace Village of Parihaka, Robin Laing and Kath Akuhata-Brown representing WIFT, short film makers, artists and actors from both stage and screen. Keri Kaa was presented the WIFT Mana Wahine Award by Robin Laing from WIFT, who congratulated Keri Kaa for "her persistence, practicality and straight talking [that] contributed not just to many films and filmmakers but to the pivotal force behind the development of the Te Manu Aute collective (the fore-runner of Nga Aho Whakaari)."
Keynote speaker at the awards was Ngaa Rauuira Puumanawawhiti, focus of documentarian Pietra Bretkelly's groundbreaking film "Maori Boy Genius" which won the Mana Wairoa Festival Prize. He spoke of the importance of a positive world view for young Maori, embracing Tikanga Maori and Te Reo Maori, speaking the first half of his speech entirely in Te Reo.
The Wairoa Maori Film Festival then went on the road. With Script to Screen and Nga Aho Whakaari, we took Auraeus Solito to Auckland AUT Marae and Wellington NZ Film Archive to two very special "In Conversation" evenings (with Briar Grace-Smith in Wellington and Leo Koziol in Auckland).
We took Maori short films to the Southland Museum in Invercargill, Te Papa museum in Wellington, and Corban Estate Arts Centre in Auckland. At Corban Estate Arts Centre, a panel of short film directors talked about their works to a packed audience.
At the NZIFF screenings, we were able to present Audience Award - Best Short Film to Lauren Jackson for "I'm Going to Mum's" as well as the Audience Award - Best Actor award to Duane Wichman-Evans for the same film, and Jahna Batt Audience Award - Best Actress for her role in "Butterfly" by Renae Maihi. The Wellington and Auckland NZIFF "Nga Whanaunga" screenings were both well attended with Q&A with guest short film makers at each, emerging Maori film makers inlcuding Catherine Bisley (Ngapuhi), recently returned from the Killer Films internship in New York, Renae Maihi (Ngapuhi), Tamati Ihaka (Te Aupouri, Tuhoe, Tuwharetoa) and Michael Reihana (Ngapuhi).
Then it was on to our international screenings around the world. Wairoa Maori Film Festival had already taken the 2012 Nga Whanaunga programme to a special screening at Skabmagovat Sami Film Festival in Finland (February) and Islands in the World Film Festival in Fiji (April). In June, we curated a "Best of Wairoa" short film programme at Museum von Volkerkunde in Hamburg, Germany. A special night included opening of the Rauru Marae at the museum.
Then in September was the launch of the Aotearoa Maori Film Festival in Sydney, Australia. Film makers Ratu Tibble, Tainui Stephens, Libby Hakaraia, and Mark Ruka travelled over especially for this launch event at the Chavel Cinema on Oxford Street, Paddington. The evening included Kapa Haka and Hangi, and also profiled Maori-owned businesses in Sydney. In 2014, the Aotearoa Maori Film Festival of Australia will expand to include Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
To cap of the year, we had the privilege of representing the Wairoa Maori Film Festival as part of the official delegation of Maori film makers to imagineNATIVE Canada. Wairoa Maori Film Festival had already built a relationship with FIFO Tahiti in French Polynesia earlier in the year, curating Francophile works for Wairoa 2013. With the support of the NZ Film Commission, the Wairoa Maori Film Festival was able to have a presence in Toronto at imagineNATIVE, which this year profiled Maori film and film makers with a programme curated by Kath Akuhata-Brown. A dozen Maori film makers travelled to imagineNATIVE including Wairoa-born film maker Allan George (Tropfest NZ Best Maori Director 2013, sponsored by Wairoa Maori Film Festival and Nga Aho Whakaari) and Renae Maihi, who went on to attend the exGround Film Festival where she presented her film as part of a programme curated by Stefanie Reis, who had been to the Wairoa Maori Film Festival earlier in the year.
Looking back on 2013, it seems that Maori film and film making has gone viral. As well as international screenings in Australia, Germany, Fiji, and Finland, we are also fielding enquiries from Hawaii, Los Angeles, London, and Canada for Maori and Pasifika film content. Each year, a group of Native film makers gather in the small village of Nuhaka to celebrate Maori film, native film and storytelling that comes from the heart of Papatuanuku (our Earth Mother). From this small seed has grown an event of global reputation, profile and promise.
We look forward to 2014 with truly great things on the horizon: a new CEO for NZFC, a new CEO for MTS, Taika's new feature at Sundance, the Pa Boys - first feature of Te Paepae Ataata - coming to a marae near you over the Summer, Dead Lands in production, and four more short films due for release from the Nga Aho shorts programme.
Thank You all for believing in us: Wairoa Maori Film Festival - Ancient Spirits Beckon - From the Wellspring of Wairoa we Spread Maori Movie Wings to the World!
Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Rakaipaaka, Whakatohea, Tuwharetoa
Festival Director WAIROA MAORI FILM FESTIVAL
BRAZIL SUPPORTS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
The Brazilian Embassy launched a groundbreaking new book, a translation of a book on Brazilian Indigenous Culture into Te Reo Maori. The translation was undertaken by Ratu Tibble, Chairman of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival and former kaumatua of Nga Aho Whakaari.
In attendance was representatives of Te Papa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Creative New Zealand, Te Puni Kokiri, Toi Maori and Taurawhiri I Te Reo Maori. The concept is being explored of working together to create cultural exchanges between Brazilian indigenous people and the Maori people of New Zealand. This exchange programme would include thespians, actors, artists, musicians and film makers.
At the second seminar, Festival Director Leo Koziol made a presentation on indigenous film and Maori film, and the history of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival. He talked of the deep ecological wisdom inherent in our marae and our whakapapa, such as our relationship with whales that is still ongoing today. He talked of a visit to New York City in 2009 that coincided with a sperm whale visiting into the harbour. At the conclusion of the first Wairoa Maori Film Festival in 2005, a sperm whale mother and her baby swam into the mouth of the Nuhaka River. In Maori belief systems, these are not mere coincidences, but in fact realities of connection to nature to be accepted and privileged by.
Leo Koziol spoke of the challenge of supporting and representing indigenous film makers in a way that actualises the dreams of their communities. First Cinema is about Hollywood and perpetuating commercial imperatives and persistent cultural identities. Second Cinema is about art house and independent film that embraces new voices but still focuses on the auteur and the individual. The idea of Third Cinema came out of Latin American in the 1960s, and is about creative collective voices and visions and embracing revolutionary narratives that can be transformational to societies. The late Barry Barclay embraced such ideas as he proposed a "Fourth Cinema" of indigenous film, the "Camera On The Shore" watching as the coloniser arrives to set new dominant cultural paradigms. Fourth Cinema similarly embraces the Collective Eye and community-based means of film production, recently realised in groundbreaking works Mt Zion (Tearepa Kahi), Lawnmower Men of Kapu (Libby Hakaraia) and Puumanawa the Gift (Poata Eruera). New projects like Te Paepae Ataata and Aho Shorts are bearing fruit, with forthcoming feature film Paa Boys being both produced and distributed under this new model (Paa Boys will initially be screened at marae and community halls prior to any commercial cinema release). A similar project could screen indigenous films in the forest and native communities in Brazil.
Special guest at the seminar was Dr. Marta do Amaral Azevedo: Brazilian Anthropologist and Demographer from the University of Campinas (Unicamp), formerly the president of Funai (National Indian Foundation) - the Brazilian government body that establishes and carries out policies relating to indigenous peoples. Also speaking was Ratu Tibble, Maori Translator; Martin Wikaira, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Shane Te Ruki, Kaumatua, Te Papa.
A cross-cultural musical performance took place with Brazilian singer Alda Rezende and New Zealand multi-instrumentalist Matiu Te Huki. They introduced and performed the Tutakitaki project, which mixes ancestral and modern music from both countries.
WMFF Powerpoint Presentation:
WAIROA PROFILED IN GERMANY & FRANCE
You can watch the entire documentary online, though unfortunately it is dubbed over in German or French. The "bonus" interviews are still in English, however.
"Maori prior to European colonisation had a strong tradition of storytelling and... 'Whakapapa' which means genealogy. So we would have moteatea (chants) that would allow us to remember the names of our ancestors. So people who were born hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago, they remain living within us and we remember them through song and through chant. And so as a part of the Whakapapa of being Maori, is all the stories of of our ancestors. So we know the story of Kahungunu, we know he lived at the far north of the island, and he traveled down looking for his one true love. And he had many loves but none of them worked out, and then he met this lady called Rongomaiwahine, out in Mahia, and know there's a tribe that stretches from here in Nuhaka, to Wellington, called Ngati Kahungunu." - Leo Koziol, Festival Director, Wairoa Maori Film Festival
IN THE NEWS
Witi Ihimaera official judge of FIFO Tahiti 2014.
International acclaim for WHITE LIES:
- A Mexican Director, a Maori Tale, New York Times
- Two International WIFT Awards for WHITE LIES
- Submitted as NZ Foreign Language Entry
Nga Aho Whakaari Brown Book now available for iPad download.
Dave Gibson, formerly of Gibson Group in Wellington, has been appointed the new CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission.
Tracey Tawhiao has designed the wrapping paper and gift bags for Department Store in Takapuna, as well as decorating the entry of the store for Christmas. She also designed the stunning poster of the 2013 Wairoa Maori Film Festival!
Shopping sweeps Moa Awards. Parihaka wins in Bali. Honk If You're Horny takes out Show Me Shorts.
NZ On Screen picks Top 10 Kiwi films of all time.
Ben Kingley felt mana of ta moko in Ender's Game.
Tainui Stephens reflects on Maori film and film making, and speaks of the emerging vision and achievements of Te Paepae Ataata, the Maori film funding body that was the dream of both Merata Mita and Barry Barclay.
First film off the block for Te Paepae Ataata is PĀ BOYS, and you can hear the first song by Fran Kora and see the music video which is also a trailer for the film, due for release early next year, commencing with a tour of Marae around the country.
Digital artists in Los Angeles picket President Barack Obama in concern of their industry being shipped overseas (including, curiously enough, New Zealand).
Renae Maihi, Allan George and Quinton Hita report back from imagineNATIVE. Allan George also interviewed by Radio Live.
Renae Maihi also took her film BUTTERFLY to exGround in Germany, profiled on the NZ Germany blog.
Tropfest Australia garners social media backlash from Gay and Transgendered community over winning film BAMBOOZLED. Australian Aboriginal series REDFERN NOW in similar situation with Anthony Mundine.
Sydney's new CORROBOREE festival was a success, including an Aboriginal film section curated by former Message Sticks team.
DEAD LANDS (below) picked up for international distribution, in production in Auckland and across Aotearoa. Hollywood Reporter Twitch Film Promises to be the Maori "APOCALYPTO" meets "THE RAID" all in Te Reo.
NATIVES AT SUNDANCE
Drunktown's Finest / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sydney Freeland) — Three young Native Americans—a rebellious father-to-be, a devout Christian woman, and a promiscuous transsexual—come of age on an Indian reservation.
Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Francis.World Premiere
“What We Do in the Shadows” (New Zealand-U.S.) — Directed and written by Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement. A mockumentary about a group of Kiwi vampiers struggling to understand and adapt to modern society. Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh, Cori Gonzales-Macuer, Stu Rutherford.
New Zealand vampires and Nazi zombies at Sundance
These two fantastic looking films look to both expand and redefine the global indigenous film canon in 2014.
Wakening / Canada (Director: Danis Goulet, Screenwriter: Tony Elliott) — In the near future, the environment has been destroyed, and society suffocates under a brutal military occupation. A lone Cree wanderer, Weesakechak, searches an urban war zone to find the ancient and dangerous Weetigo to help fight the occupiers.
WAIROA MAORI FILM FESTIVAL 2014
Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, Wairoa District, Thursday May 29th to Monday June 2nd 2014. Theme: "Indigenous Frequencies."