Mary Lauati as Little Maria in short film MARIA

Samoan/Maori short film Maria has its world premiere at Hawai’i International Film Festival this week, screening on Tues 8 and Fri 11 November in the Pacific Showcase Shorts program.

Maria stars two Samoan actresses aged 8 and 82 years old. Leiataua Afega “Ma” Si’ulepa makes her second big screen appearance as Nan Maria and introduces Mary Lauati as Little Maria. “Ma” also starred in the semi-biographical film MA, which screened at HIFF 2014.

Maria follows the story of Nan Maria, the matriarch of a large Polynesian family, who is bedridden after a long illness. When a family crisis strikes, Nan gets unexpected help as she struggles to reunite her fractured family. The film was shot on location at Mataatua marae in the town of Rotorua in New Zealand’s central North Island. Dialogue is in Samoan and English.

Two other HIFF Pacific Showcase short films from Aotearoa/New Zealand share cast and crew. Director Jeremiah Tauamiti also helmed ‘Aho’eitu  and appears in The Promise of Piha, which is written and co-directed by Maria writer Taofia Pelesasa. Maria was produced by Karin Williams of Multinesia Productions with funding from New Zealand Film Commission’s Fresh Shorts.