The dream of an international premiere is about to come true for two 16-year-old filmmakers with their short film Bub being selected for the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada.

Meeting in 2017 through the Māoriland Charitable Trust's Through Our Lens programme, Oriwa Hakaraia from Ōtaki and Te Mahara Tamehana from Kaitaia co-directed the film which was dreamed up following the programme.

Living 900km apart and planned over Messenger and Google Docs, the filmmaking duo planned the film together, defying the physical distance separating them.

Oriwa Hakaraia from Ōtaki is one of the co-directors of Bub which has been selected for a film festival in Toronto.
Oriwa Hakaraia from Ōtaki is one of the co-directors of Bub which has been selected for a film festival in Toronto.

"The story of Bub was inspired by a vision that I had of a small boy walking home from school with no shoes," Oriwa said.

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"The vision evolved and the story that we have of Bub came from that.

"We wanted to make it as real as possible."

Originally struggling with ideas for a film, it was talking with her mum, filmmaker Libby Hakaraia, one night on the beach that the ideas came together.

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"I talked to my mum and we sat out on the sand dunes at Ōtaki beach and watched the sunset while brainstorming ideas.

"She asked me, 'when you think of your film, what do you see?'

"I said I see a small boy coming home from school with no shoes on and the gravel is hurting his feet.

"From there she asked me what I see next and it kind of just progressed from there.

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"I messaged Te Mahara and he was keen to be on board so we started developing the story together from there."

Filmed in January at the Māoriland Hub on a shoestring budget with a crew blending whānau, rangatahi and professional filmmakers, Oriwa hopes this is just the start of life-long career in the film industry.

"My dream is to spend my life making films, whether they're small scale or big scale.

"My goal is to continue working in the industry and make films that inspire people and tell stories from a Māori point of view.

Māoriland filmmakers and actors involved in producing Bub.
Māoriland filmmakers and actors involved in producing Bub.

"I want to show people that age isn't and shouldn't be an obstacle when it comes to making films."

Finding out they had made it into the festival which is celebrating its 20th year this year was an unreal feeling for Oriwa.

"I had just woken up when my mum came running into my room screaming saying 'you're going to imagineNATIVE. Your film was selected'.

"I just froze. I felt chills and the hairs on my back stood up.

"I was over the moon, it was an unreal feeling, just super exciting."

"To have Bub screen at the largest annual indigenous media arts event in the world is a significant achievement for Oriwa and Te Mahara who represent the next generation of Māori filmmakers," Māoriland's Madeleine de Young said.

Oriwa and Te Mahara's current challenge is getting to imagineNATIVE in Toronto to present their film at the end of this month.

Running a campaign to raise money, flights to Toronto are expected to cost upwards of $2500 each, with the pair needing to raise $6000 to cover flights and accommodation.

"For us, imagineNATIVE is a huge opportunity to present our first professional film to the world," Oriwa said.

"We're hoping to use this trip to connect with other Indigenous filmmakers and to programme films for other rangatahi back in Aotearoa for the Māoriland Rangatahi Film Festival."

At 16 years old, Oriwa and Te Mahara's are NZ's youngest directors to have ever presented a drama at an international festival.

To help get the filmmakers get to Toronto, visit their boosted page here.