Celebrating Te Moananui a Kiwa at the 2019 Māoriland Film Festival

Announcing the programme for the largest Indigenous film festival in the southern hemisphere


The biggest Indigenous film festival in the southern hemisphere is almost here. Hosted in Ōtaki on the Kāpiti Coast, the sixth annual Māoriland Film Festival (MFF) is bringing over 138 films and 62 events from 94 Indigenous nations to Aotearoa.

The 2019 MFF programme will feature a strong lineup of films from Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific), including the southern hemisphere premiere of Vai.

Made by the producers of the critically acclaimed ‘Waru’, ‘Vai’ is a portmanteau feature film directed by eight female Pacific Island filmmakers and filmed in seven Pacific countries: Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Aīrani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Another seven Pacific features and 41 short films from Aotearoa, Hawai’i, Papua New Guinea, Rapanui, Guam, Haida Gwaii, Vanuatu and more are scheduled in the 2019 programme, including the southern hemisphere premieres of Moananuiākea: One Ocean. One Canoe. One People and SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife).

Moananuiākea: One Ocean. One Canoe. One People celebrates the epic voyage of the Hōkūle’a around the globe. Launched in 1976, the Hōkūle’a has travelled over 470,000 nautical miles to 85 ports and 26 nations, connecting countless individuals and communities around the globe.

Sgaawaay K’uuna makes history as the first feature film in the Haida language. Nearly lost to the terrible consequences of smallpox, residential schools, church and government intervention, there are currently less than 60 fluent speakers of Haida, many over the age of 70. Made to be a catalyst for language revitalisation and  economic development, it tells the classic Haida story of the traumatised and stranded man transformed to Gaagiixiid, the wildman.

Filmed on stunning Haida Gwaii, Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s 19th-century epic is a nod to the  grand storytelling traditions that lure us to the big screen.

Māoriland Film Festival Director Libby Hakaraia says, “Indigenous stories help us make sense of our world, of our connections and our shared humanity. Our sixth festival includes stories from the polar regions, from the deserts, from the mountains of Iran and Nepal, and from nations who dwell upon and beside the planet’s vast  oceans including the Pacific.

Indigenous films from the United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Iran and more will feature over the five-day festival as Indigenous cinema gains more recognition and wins more awards at some of the world’s largest film festivals.

Over 50 per cent of programmed directors are female, celebrating a diversity that Hollywood is often criticised for its lack of.

With many of these filmmakers planning to travel to Ōtaki to present their films, festival attendees will have the unique opportunity to meet and mingle with the storytellers and hear about their experiences directly.

The Māoriland Rangatahi Film Festival (MRFF) also promises to again be a major drawcard for schools in the lower North Island presenting films created by young people from around the world.

Programmed by youth for their peers these films give the filmmakers of tomorrow the chance to express their experiences and identities through the medium of film, and encourages them to engage with, challenge and reflect the issues in their day-to-day lives.

The MFF is now the largest public event on the Kāpiti Coast annually, hosting over 12,000 visitors in 2018 and providing $1.3 million into the local economy.

The Māoriland Film Festival takes place between 20 - 24 March and features over 138 films and 62 events from 94 Indigenous nations from across the globe - ranging from the Sámi people of Northern Europe through to First Nations and Native Americans of North America, Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific), South East Asia, the Aboriginal people of Australia and the tangata whenua of Aotearoa.

Further information: 

About Māoriland Film Festival: Now in its sixth year, Māoriland Film Festival (MFF) is the largest international Indigenous film festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Each March, MFF welcomes Indigenous filmmakers from around the world to Ōtaki to celebrate Indigenous creativity and storytelling in film. For more information visit: https://maorilandfilm.co.nz/

Contact details: 

Written by

Māoriland Film Festival

6 Feb 2019