Students' Pacific shorts selected for Film Festival
Two short films by upcoming student filmmakers from the University of Auckland's Screen Production Programme will screen at the country’s premier film event, the New Zealand International Film Festival.
Milk and Honey and Tatau, both made as part of the Masters in Screen Production programme, have been selected alongside New Zealand’s best films of 2012.
Milk and Honey, by Marina McCartney, recalls the notorious dawn raids on Pasifika families in Auckland. It is among six finalists in the inaugural Best Short Film Competition at the Festival.
Tatau, by Chantelle Burgoyne, is a story about the inner turmoil of an elderly Samoan man, who is struggling to overcome his own sense of weakness and shame as the loss of his vision forces him to confront painful memories from his past. It is one of seven shorts selected for the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts Programme.
Milk and Honey, which stars Robbie Magasiva, will have its world premier at the Festival. The drama follows two Samoan immigrants who are forced to contemplate their futures after being subjected to the 1970s dawn raids on Samoan overstayers.
“It is humbling for Milk & Honey to screen alongside other films made by talented filmmakers. More importantly this means that a part of New Zealand history which hasn’t been given the attention it deserves will have the opportunity to reach new audiences,” Marina says.
“The period of the Dawn Raids is one that is not a part of the school curriculum. It is in danger of being forgotten by New Zealanders and the descendants of Pacific Island immigrants, but one which has had a lingering effect on the psyche of Pacific Islanders in the diaspora, whether they are conscious of it or not.”
In Tatau, the main character, Siaki, not only faces losing his sight, he is also trying to deal with the lifelong shame of having an incomplete traditional tattoo. As Siaki's vision deteriorates, memories of the painful tattooing ceremony he underwent in his youth haunt him as he yearns to see his tattoo completed before it's too late.
“As a young filmmaker having my film, Tatau, selected for New Zealand's premier festival is wonderful. This will be the first time I've had a film screened in a large festival before a wide audience and to have the journey that my film will hopefully take begin here feels really special,” Chantelle says.
“Tatau stemmed from various facets and influences in my own life especially with regard to my experience as a New Zealand/Samoan and as such identity, cultural values and familial bonds - shown through a father daughter relationship - are all present in the film.”
Marina and Chantelle's Masters' thesis supervisor Dr Shuchi Kothari says, "both these young women are talented and deeply committed to telling Pasifika stories; a combination that has a rightful place in the academy and the industry. They've been a delight to supervise and I have high expectations for their filmmaking futures."
The NZ International Film Festival screens at various venues around the country from July to November. See www.nzff.co.nz.