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Maori Film Festival back at the Gaiety

For the first time in more than a decade the big screen at Wairoa’s Gaiety Theatre will be home to the Maori Film Festival on Labour Weekend, October 23-26.

Ten feature films and more than 60 short films will screen at the Gaiety Theatre over the four days.

“We’ve got some cool feature films like Alien Addiction and Jojo Rabbit and more arty fare like Rurangi and Return to Gandhi Road,” says festival director Leo Koziol

“There’s a big Pacific focus with two short film programmes and feature documentaries Loimata, and Tupaia’s Endeavour.

“With Aotearoa closed to the world perhaps it is a time to look inwards and watch our own stories and think about what it means to be a New Zealander,”

The 20 or so short films by Maori directors show promise for the future of New Zealand filmmaking and on-screen storytelling, he says.

Takatapui LGBTQ+ films are a strong focus in this year’s programme. Same But Different by Nikki Si’ulepa and Rachel Wills is based on the true story of how two wahine from different cultures met and fell in love at the Maori Film Festival. Same But Different features a cameo by Leo Koziol, who plays the festival director.

Other LGBTQ+ films include Rurangi, a story of a young trans activist returning to small town New Zealand and Gurl by Mika Haka which is the legendary story of New Zealand-Australian drag performer, brothel keeper, anti-discrimination activist, would-be politician, and HIV/AIDS activist Carmen.

On the Saturday, A Night at the Maori Movies looks back at 15 years of the Maori film festival and presents a best of this year’s new Maori-directed short films.

Films are reasonably priced at $10 for features and $5 for shorts, says Koziol. A filmmaker gathering place at Taihoa Marae is also planned for the weekend.

The festival awards this year will be presented at a special 15th anniversary celebration dinner at the Vista Motor Lodge in Wairoa.

The full programme will be available on www.kiaora.tv. Ticket pre-sales will also be available in coming weeks at the Gaiety Theatre and online next week.

LOIMATA, THE SWEETEST TEARS: The last voyage of the great waka maker, sailor and mentor Ema Siope, whose journeys between Aotearoa and Samoa in search of healing, and her family’s reckoning with systemic abuse, are documented in Loimata: The Sweetest Tears, showing at the Maori Film Festival. NZ Film Festival picture