Future Maori film-makers shine – Aotearoa Maori Film Festival Sydney

Press Release - Aotearoa Maori Film Festival - Sydney, Australia, September 3 2014

This year’s Aotearoa Maori film festival in Sydney showcased a new film workshop for tamariki 

(children). Although, only in its infancy the festival has a unique market in the expanding 

multi-cultural city of Sydney.

Organiser of the film festival Brent Reihana says, “We’re show-casing our Maori talent in film-making and also growing the potential talent of our tamariki through these creative film workshops.”

About 15 enthusiastic youth participated in the 1-day workshop and learned more about Tikanga Maori and how it weaves in to making films. Participants were also taught skills in how to develop a creative concept, and how to tell a tumeke Maori story plus hands on activities including how to use a digital app. Audience members had the honour of seeing the finished work on screen as part of the film festival.

Mr Reihana says, “Our aim is to build an audience for Maori films in three locations – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane”. To achieve this ambitious goal Brent and his film festival team need bums on seats. He admits, “Our priority is to sell tickets and make enough money to sustain the festival.”

Hurstville in southern Sydney is a hive of activity and home to one of the largest Westfield shopping centres in the area. Nearby there are historic buildings such as the St George Regional Museum, and the Ritz Hotel.

Behind the scenes many whanau volunteer to make the event successful. Brent says, “It’s heartening to see whanaungatanga alive and well in Oz and everyone working towards a worthwhile project.”

Tema Kwan Fenton, an experienced film-maker inspires the tamariki film-makers of tomorrow by sharing her knowledge. She reckons, “I’m keeping my hand-in and the kids are so confident and inspired which is great to see.” Kaiako Moana Sukkar and Devlin Tikitiki also help to design the programme loaded with techniques to develop the tamariki’s skill base.

The festival mainly screens short films both traditional and contemporary including Te Reo Maori across all genres. In the future Mr Reihana hopes to include documentaries and feature films to offer a broader range of films to his growing audience.

Mr Reihana, a businessman who runs Mantra Solutions a business consulting agency says one of the biggest challenges is that many Maori living in Sydney don’t have their extended whanau around them to support the kaupapa. He says, “It’s starting out small as a tight-knit community but we have opportunities to develop and grow through community partnerships and sponsorship.” 

“We have some close ties with the Lebanese community and a top Australian law firm has shown some interest.” Mr Reihana is confident with the support of the Hurstville community and in particular its ethnic communities, the event can develop and thrive in the future.

The 2014 Aotearoa Maori film festival saw the debut of New Zealand’s first 3D Maori animated short film THE RANGIMOEKAUS and also the Cannes film festival Home by Api Ipo and Butterfly directed by Renae Maihi. Butterfly screened previously at imagineNATIVE Canada, exGround Germany, and the NZ International Film Festival.

The festival also passes down knowledge to the next generations of Maori - Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi - As an old net withers another is remade. When an elder is no longer fit to lead, a healthier leader will stand in his place.

To sponsor or advertise with the Aotearoa Maori Film Festival or to find out more contact Brent Reihana at www.aotearoamaorifilmfestival.com