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12 October 2017

NZ: Māori filmmaker bound for Canada to screen Te Reo films at international festival

Powerful and challenging ... Waru unfolds around the tangi of a young boy. Video: Vendetta Films NZ

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): In a first for a New Zealand filmmaker, Māori filmmaker Renae Maihi has three films circulating the global international film festival circuit.

Maihi’s films Ka Puta, Ko Au and Ranui – part of the Waru anthology of eight short films – will have their international debuts this month.

The award-winning and critically acclaimed writer, director, and producer of Ngāti Whakaue and Ngāpuhi is headed to Canada next week to screen the films at the ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in Toronto.

Ka Puta, Ko Au, made as part of this year’s Māoriland Film Festival Native Slam, tells the story of young Māori woman who risks her life to travel to another tribe to prevent her bloodline from dying out. Set in pre-colonial Aotearoa, it was made in 72 hours by Maihi, Amie Batalibasi, and Kelton Stepanowich.

Consisting of eight short films directed by eight female Māori directors, Waru is a feature film which unfolds around the tangi of a young boy – Waru – who died at the hands of his caregiver. Each anthology was shot in one day and each tells a story in a single, continuous shot.

The film had its world premiere at the New Zealand International Film Festival, in which it has been acknowledged as “powerful and challenging” for addressing Aotearoa’s poor child abuse rate – on average one child is killed every five weeks – and challenging narratives child abuse is a “Māori problem”.

Waru also opened the Toronto International Film Festival and is set to open ImagineNATIVE on October 18, 2017.

Te reo films
Both Ka Puta, Ko Au and Waru are filmed in te reo Māori. Ka Puta, Ko Au is entirely in te reo, while Waru is almost entirely filmed in Aotearoa’s indigenous language.

Maihi’s film Mannahatta premiered at ImagineNATIVE in 2016 and also played at this year’s NZIFF.

Manahatta was shot in black and white and follows an ancient spirit who tries to send a message to a recent immigrant in New York.

Next week is not Maihi’s first time at ImagineNATIVE, however.

She has a longstanding relationship with the film festival stretching back to 2010, when a film she co-wrote with Waru colleague Katie Wolfe -- Redemptionwon best short drama.

Maihi returned in 2013 with a strong delegation of Māori filmmakers to screen her award-winning short-film Butterfly.

ImagineNATIVE is being held in Toronto October 18 to October 22, 2017 and Waru will be released in New Zealand cinemas on October 19, 2017.

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