Indigenous film festival coming to Rotorua

The Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival team. Image: Supplied.

The Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival is being held in September promising a selection of the best indigenous films from around the world.

Created by award-winning Maori filmmakers, the three-day event offers an immersive indigenous experience for filmmakers and film goers. 

Director of RIFF Piripi Curtis says last year’s inaugural festival was extremely popular and had sold out screenings of short and feature films. 

“Indigenous storytelling through film is on the rise and with our festival being held in the heartland of Maori culture, it is the perfect setting,” he says.

RIFF also offered educational workshops, networking opportunities with top filmmakers and a red carpet event.

One of the most popular events was the ‘pitch your project’ section where aspiring writers and film makers had the opportunity to present their film idea to a team of judges to win seed funding.

“The workshops will be a chance for young or budding filmmakers to learn from the best, about accessing funding, how to write good stories and the craft of filmmaking.

“Aspiring filmmakers and writers need to mark this in their calendars,” says Piripi.

RIFF was the creation from a group of award-winning Rotorua film makers; Piripi Curtis, Mike Jonathan and Lara Northcroft of Steambox Collective.

Last year’s festival launched with a screening of Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen. It also included a special screening of Maui's Hook, produced by Karen Waaka-Tibble and an opportunity to view The Breaker Upperers, starring Madeline Sami, James Rolleston and Jackie Van Beek.

Liliu and TAKE are two indigenous short films that will feature this year.

Jeremiah Tauamiti’s film Liliu, a post-WWI courtroom drama set and shot in Samoa, follows the story of a young ambitious court interpreter who risks everything when Nua, a wrongfully imprisoned chief, fights to get back to her stranded grandchildren.

“Having a voice in your own country is hard enough, but when you're jailed for literally using your language and culture, that is perhaps the worst kind of imprisonment.

“I wanted to make Liliu to inspire my people, traditional and modern, and give them hope.” says Tauamiti.

Liliu is a film that tackles universal indigenous themes like the sacredness of life and land, through the Pacific Gaze.

TAKE is a non-fiction film directed by Australian born Maori dancer and performance artist Victoria Hunt. Weaving dance and archival materials TAKE retells the story of the removal of the ancestral Maori meetinghouse, Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito, from Aotearoa to England in 1892. Set in the liminal spaces between history and emotion TAKE unfolds a story of origins, of traumatic events and colonial violence.

The festival will open with a powhiri at Tama-te-kapua Marae and will conclude with a gala function at Mitai Maori Village. RIFF is steeped in Maori values of manaakitanga/hospitality and kotahitanga/unity and runs from Thursday, September 26 until Saturday, 28. It will be held at the Destiny Theatre in the CBD of Rotorua.

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