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MARIA world premiere at HIFF


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.


Mary Lauati as Little Maria with Leiataua Afega “Ma” Si’ulepa as Nan Maria

MARIA premieres at Pollywood Pasifika Film festival in Auckland in a programme of short films by Pacific Islander filmmakers. Now in its 14th year, Pollywood 2016 includes eight Pasifika films in an eclectic mix of multi-genre work with a family theme.

MARIA tells the story of an ailing Polynesian matriarch who must find the strength to unite her fractured family. The film stars Leiataua “Ma” Si’uelpa, 82, as Nan Maria and introduces 8 year-old Mary Lauati  in a compelling role as Little Maria.

MARIA is written by Taofia Pelesasa, directed by Jeremiah Tauamiti and produced by Karin Williams of Multinesia Productions, with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission’s Fresh Shorts fund.

MARIA at Pollywood:
Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery – Weds 2 Nov @ 6pm
Mangere Arts Centre – Sat Nov 5 @ 5pm
Auckland Art Gallery – Sat Nov 12 @ 2pm

Mou Piri at imagineNATIVE

Tara Kauvai sings Mou Piri by Jon Jonassen

Mou Piri: A Rarotongan Love Song screens at imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival 2015 in Toronto Oct 14-18.

Mou Piri explores the value of music and dance in Cook Islands culture, through the story of a romantic song that has become synonymous with Island weddings. The short documentary film was directed by Karin Williams for the Film Raro Challenge in 2013 and premiered at Hawaii International Film Festival. 

Mou Piri is one of twelve films – four of them by Pasifika directors – selected from Aoteroa New Zealand at imagineNATIVE 2015, the world’s premier global indigenous media arts festival.

Mou Piri: A Rarotongan Love Song screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday 17 October at 12pm, opening for The Redfern Story.

We Live by the River screens at the Native Spirit Festival in London on Thurs Oct 21 8:45pm at Amnesty International HRAC.

The 4th Native Spirit Festival is an annual season of films, talks and performances promoting the cultures of indigenous peoples.

We Live by the River
Native Spirit Festival
Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA