Graduate short film selected for NZIFF

24 June 2015
Mrs Mokemoke still

The short film that Li Geng Xin directed as part of his Master of Arts in Screen Production has been selected for the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Produced by Tia Barrett (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāi Tahu), Mrs Mokemoke will screen during the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts programme on Saturday 1 August at SkyCity Theatre in Auckland. It has already received an enthusiastic reception at the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, where it screened before Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands.

Mrs Mokemoke is an experimental film shot in black and white ‘silent movie’ style that depicts a triangular relationship: a Māori wife who adores an abusive Pākehā husband and her father who is suspicious and rejects his son-in-law.

Li Geng explained that he wanted to use “concepts of pure cinema that solely tell the story by images” in his MA short film project. This concept was supported by supervisor Jake Mahaffy and together they designed a highly-stylised film noir shot through with a quirky humour and drawing on expressionism.

Jake said that “selection to the NZIFF is a considerable honour for Li Geng’s film. Different festivals program by different criteria, but getting an independent project placed is like having a book selected for publication. I’m especially glad to see something relatively experimental get validated here in New Zealand.”

“I was very happy to support Li Geng Xin as he unapologetically proposed and pursued his boldly stylistic film. He made a deliberate decision about his aesthetics. Whatever the success and shortcomings of this one particular film, it indicates his unique approach to the practice of filmmaking. That kind of originality is rare – it cannot be taught.”

“I hope we get more unconventional narrative filmmakers through the programme and a chance to help refine their discipline.”

As a ‘silent film’, Mrs Mokemoke makes prominent use of a mix of traditional Māori instrumentation and piano in its soundtrack.

Curator of the programme and Director of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival Leo Koziol described the short film as “a mind-expanding mashup of Lindauer portraits, silent-era storytelling, film noir and Kubrickian intrigue.”

Another experimental filmmaker who graduated from the MA in Screen Production programme, Niu Han, was chosen to participate in Berlinale Talents in Berlin earlier this year.

Also screening at the NZIFF is Crossing Rachmaninoff, directed by Rebecca Tansley, an MA graduate in Italian.

Find out more about Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts 2015

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