The small town of Ōtaki is hosting the largest indigenous film festival in the Southern Hemisphere, the Māoriland Film Festival (MFF).

The seventh annual festival will present over 120 films and 69 events from 92 indigenous nations while hosting filmmakers from communities around the world.

"The programme is packed with New Zealand and Southern Hemisphere premieres of shorts, features and documentary films that show the exceptional storytelling of indigenous peoples from across the globe," MFF2020 festival director Libby Hakaraia said.

The theme for MFF2020 is Me Reretau — Be in Balance.

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"We offer stories that seek harmony in an increasingly discordant world.

"Stories help us make sense of our world, of our connections and our shared humanity.

"Access to technology has enabled indigenous people everywhere to tell their own stories.

"In this new environment, indigenous cinema continues to grow enabling us to hear the voices of those who have an unbroken connection with the lands upon which we live."

MFF2020 will open with the festival premiere of Kiwi-sized blockbuster The Legend of Baron To'a, directed by Tainui filmmaker Kiel McNaughton.

Dr Tasha Hubbard will present a talk after the showing of her film Nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up.
Dr Tasha Hubbard will present a talk after the showing of her film Nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up.

The Legend of Baron To'a

is the result of Kiel's vision to create a film that could work in a single location and still be an action-packed drama.

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Further highlights include the multi-award-winning First Nations Canadian documentary Nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up, a multi-award-winning documentary which seeks justice for the shooting of a teenager in Canada.

In 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley's rural property with his friends. The jury's subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention raising questions about racism embedded within Canada's legal system and propelling Colten's family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice.

Following the showing of the film, the director Dr Tasha Hubbard, members of Colten's family, and the family's lawyer will speak at a NATIVE Minds session.

NATIVE Minds is a series of interactive discussions with guest speakers from New Zealand and abroad examining how indigenous thinking shapes our existence and our view of the world.

For those looking to further expand their horizons, Māoriland Tech Creative Hub (M.A.T.C.H) will also present virtual reality demonstrations and Toi Matarau, Māoriland's visual arts gallery will show top Māori artists with tāmoko, carvers and weavers working in and around the Māoriland Hub throughout the festival.

Kaea Hakaraia Hosking (left) and Ngahiwi Pickering (right) with participants of a Through Our Lens workshop in Taiwan.
Kaea Hakaraia Hosking (left) and Ngahiwi Pickering (right) with participants of a Through Our Lens workshop in Taiwan.

For the first time MFF will also screen films from indigenous Taiwan.

This includes Long Time No Sea, Wawa No Cidal, the virtual reality experience A Song Within Us, and a series of brand new shorts made in January as part of the Through Our Lens rangatahi filmmaking project.

MFF2020 will also host the Māoriland Rangatahi Film Festival (MRFF), the only indigenous film festival in the world that is a programme run by young people for young people.

"The input of Ngā Pakiaka, our young Māori filmmakers from across Aotearoa is another way we find balance," Māoriland's Madeleine de Young said.

"Ngā Pakiaka are at the centre of everything we do at Māoriland, they are the building blocks of our future.

"Ngā Pakiaka have programmed MRFF and will show short films made this January during Through Our Lens workshops in Taiwan and Sapmi."

Making the most of hosting filmmakers from around the world MFF2020 will for the fifth time host NATIVE Slam, Māoriland's 72 hour indigenous international collaboration challenge.

Filmmakers in attendance are put into groups to plan and produce a film in just 72 hours.

"This programme speaks to Māoriland's wider work within the industry to create new links for Māori filmmakers to collaborate with internationals."

The closing night film will be the New Zealand premiere of The Sun Above Me Never Sets by first time feature director Lyubov Borisova.

Special events include the Māoriland Keynote Address at Rangiātea Church, and the Free Whānau Outdoor Screening of Frozen 2.

Celebrating diversity, over half of the films in the programme have been directed by women or genderqueer filmmakers.

The MFF2020 Red Carpet Party will feature surprise performances by some of Aotearoa's finest musicians.

The Māoriland Film Festival takes place between from March 18-22.

Tickets will be on sale from February 12.

Māoriland Film Festival
• 69 Events to be held over five days
• 31 feature films, 85 short films and 4 VR works with filmmakers from 27 countries and 92 indigenous nations — 120 films in total
• 33 New Zealand films
• 17 New Zealand premieres of international films
• 53 per cent of programmed filmmakers identify as women, non-binary or non-identifying
• MFF2019 was attended by 12,500 visitors contributing over $1.3 million to Ōtaki and the wider Kāpiti Coast economy.


Visit maorilandfilm.co.nz for the full programme and more information.