Waru

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New Zealand | 2017 | 88 minutes | Briar Grace-Smith, Awanui Simich-Pene, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Casey Kaa, Chelsea Winstanley, Paula Whetu Jones, Ainsley Gardiner

This raw and challenging feature is composed of eight vignettes directed by eight female Maori directors. Presented as single-take shots done in real time, the vignettes focus on eight women as they live their lives beset by poverty, child abuse, guilt, and hopelessness.

Bold and challenging, Waru is a film composed of eight vignettes that center on the funeral of a Maori child. The vignettes are presented in one continuous shot through real-time and focuses on eight Maori women who must go through life beset by poverty, child abuse, guilt, and hopelessness. Each vignette is raw and unflinching in its deliverance: There is the young, careless mother who comes back home drunk at dawn to find that she has locked her baby alone in the house; the mother who admits that she is too poor to purchase food for her children; the kindergarten teacher who becomes resistant to attending the funeral; and the young, emboldened teenager who finally confronts her abuser in one dramatic, emotional moment. Moreover, the film hints at other subtler themes unique to the Maori community that includes cultural assimilation, societal pressure, and racism. Each vignette was directed by a Maori woman who has poured her heart and voice into this, a film that is sure to leave audiences with raw emotions and difficult questions to ponder.

Director Biography
New Zealand playwright Briar Grace-Smith has gained both domestic and international exposure from her plays and television scripts. She has won the 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award and the 1997 Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best New Zealand Play for her plays "Nga Pou Wahine" and "Purapurawhethu," respectively.

Ainsley Gardiner has an extensive background in producing films, such as the Oscar®-nominated Two Cars, One Night (2002) and Tama Tu (2004). Gardiner co-founded Whenua Films in 2004 with actor Cliff Curtis, dedicating to emphasizing Maori voices in their productions.

Writer and director Renae Maihi received a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree from Te Wanaga o Aotearoa before working on the critically acclaimed play "Nga Manurere" (2009). She was the co-writer of Redemption (2010) and has directed the short films Mannahatta (2016) and Ka Puta Ko Au (2017).

Currently living in Los Angeles, Chelsea Winstanley produced the short films Meathead (2011) and Night Shift (2012), both selected for Cannes and the former winning an award at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2014, she produced the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, directed by her husband Taika Waititi (Boy) and Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords." She won the Women in Film and TV Mana Wahine Award in 2015.

Casey Kaa developed her career working in bilingual Maori children's programming, directing the series' "Kete Korero–My Maori Myths" and "Kia Mau." She made her entry into film as the art director for MA (2014), a short directed by Nikki Si'ulepa. In 2015, she started her own company, Takitini Productions.

Raised in New Zealand's far north, Awanui Simich-Pene emerged as a filmmaker studying at Unitec, graduating in 2005. She has been director for several Maori-language TV series including the kids shows "Pukoro" and "Pukana," the instructional drama "Korero Mai" (2010), and the second season of "Find Me a Maori Bride" (2017).

Wellington-based Paula Whetu Jones has been involved with television documentaries for over two decades, eventually directing works such as The Silent Soldiers (2014) about the use of rats to clear unexploded ordinance in Cambodia, and He Ao Kotahi (2016) about Maori artists working with Palestinian peers in the West Bank. She holds a Master's in Creative Writing from AUT University.

Born in New Plymouth in 1968, Katie Wolfe has been acting on-stage and on-screen since she was 14, playing prominent roles on shows like "Marlin Bay" (1992), "Cover Story" (1996), "Shortland Street" (1997-1998), and "Mercy Peak" (2001-2003). Moving into directing, she has directed or produced dozens of episodes for "Shortland Street" (2003-2007; 2010-2012), and her short films This is Her (2008) and Redemption (2010) have each won multiple awards in the festival circuit.

Sponsored by Seattle-Christchurch Sister City Association, 1150AM KKNW

  • Director: Briar Grace-Smith, Awanui Simich-Pene, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Casey Kaa, Chelsea Winstanley, Paula Whetu Jones, Ainsley Gardiner
  • Principal Cast: Miriama McDowell, Tanea Heke, Kararaina Rangihau, Roimata Fox, Ngapaki Moetara
  • Premiere Status: Seattle
  • Country: New Zealand
  • Year: 2017
  • Running Time: 88 minutes
  • Producer: Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton
  • Screenplay: Awanui Simich-Pene, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Casey Kaa, Chelsea Winstanley, Paula Whetu Jones, Briar Grace-Smith, Ainsley Gardiner, Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu
  • Cinematographers: Drew Sturge
  • Editors: Craig Parkes
  • Music: Lauren King
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Wolfe: Kawa (2010); Other Seven Directors: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English, Maori
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: MPI Media Group