PRESS RELEASE: October 15 2015, Toronto, Canada

On the other side of the world this week, Maori and Pasifika film making is being feted and celebrated in style. The imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival is screening 16 different film and media works, many only recently premiered at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival and the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Wairoa Maori Film Festival is proud to be present and part of the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, and is co-presenter of THE PRICE OF PEACE by Kim Webby and Christina Milligan, screening on Friday night. THE PRICE OF PEACE only recently completed a tour of venues near Tuhoe country, including the Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa with special guest Tame Iti.

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival has also been helping and encouraging Maori and Pasifika film makers to enter their films into indigenous film festivals internationally. A new non-commercial distribution arm of the festival, Nuhaka Films, has distributed FOOTSTEPS by Lennie Hill and LAHAINA NOON by Christopher Kahunahana to the imagineNATIVE programme.

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival is also working with Mika and Mika Haka in the distribution and promotion of their media art works (including TANIWHA) and anti-bullying web series THE AROHA PROJECT. "Mika is a global champion for issues around racism, homophobia, bullying and whanau, and we are proud to help promote his works as they travel around the world."

Past winners of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival are featured at imagineNATIVE. INC'D directed by Darren Simmonds and produced by Rob Mokaraka won the Audience Awards for both Best NZ Short Film and Best Actor at the 2014 festival. OW WHAT by Mike Jonathon won the Best Actor Audience Award at the 2015 festival.

"Wairoa Maori Film Festival is proud to promote Maori film and Maori film makers, and are excited to be travelling with them on their journey around the world," says Festival Director Leo Koziol.

"There is in particular an exciting line-up of Pasifika short films this year, with MA by Nikki Si'ulepa and MOU PIRI by Karen Willams," says Mr. Koziol. "THE LAST SAINT by Rene Naufahu arrives in Toronto fresh from an award-winning reception at the Harlem Film Festival, where Beulah Koale won Best actor."

"In some ways, imagineNATIVE is the 'Other' Maori film festival on the other side of the world, a fantastic celebration of Maori and Pasifika film making amongst the talent of global natives from around the world," says Mr. Koziol.

The Maori Film Festival's director will also be watching out for works of excellence from international native film makers from Canada, USA, Sami Land, and elsewhere in the world, to curate for the next Wairoa Maori Film Festival occurring at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, Wairoa, from June 3-6 next year.