Celebrating Maori voice in films
It started as a festival run by the seat of its pants, but the Maoriland Film Festival has turned into an annual event that swells the population of Otaki.
The festival celebrates indigenous voices and storytelling in film, showinga selection of movies from around the world.
Festival co-ordinator Madeleine de Young said it was in its fourth year and organisers were hoping to top last year’s attendance of over 7000 people.
The festival began when its creators noticed a gap for indigenous films in the Southern Hemisphere and also from another discovery of chance.
‘‘The festival director Libby Hakaraia was going through some archives down at Nga Taonga and she came across these films that were made in the 1920s in Otaki.’’
They were produced by the shortlived Australian company, Federated Feature Films Ltd, which, de Young said, ‘‘loved the light in Otaki’’.
‘‘They wanted to make Otaki the Los Angeles of the South Pacific, basically, and it was a bit boom and bust.
‘‘But one thing we found was a title card and it says, ‘Otaki, the land of Maoriland films and the home of the Los Angeles of New Zealand’s moving picture industry’ and so it made Libby go ‘that’s it, we have to do something.’’.
The five-day festival includes stories from native Hawaiians, the Sami nation in Sweden, first nation from Canada and the Yakel Tribe in Vanuatu.
‘‘I think that slowly the world is getting more interested and more attuned to indigenous stories and there is so much more support now that these films aren’t just on the fringe anymore.
They are getting further and further into the mainstream,’’ De Young said.
The festival runs from March 15-19 at a variety of venues in Otaki.