The last time Isey Cross went to the movies was at Auckland's Civic Theatre during World War II.
This Saturday she's going back to the Civic but not just as a spectator — the Kawakawa kuia will celebrate her 102nd birthday watching herself play the starring role in a new film.
The world premiere of James & Isey will be attended by friends, whānau and many of the people featured in the documentary, including members of the Bay of Islands College kapa haka group and Six60 singer Matiu Walters, Isey's great-grandson.
And, because the screening happens to be on Isey's birthday, it will be followed by a party like no other.
The film was made by Paihia-raised Florian Habicht, best known for his 2004 cult documentary Kaikohe Demolition about local characters competing in the town's demo derby.
Habicht said the film centred around the relationship between Isey and her son James, who had been her full-time caregiver for 20 years. In reality, however, each looked after the other.
The project came about two years ago when James was organising an ''epic'' party for his mum's 100th birthday.
He needed to raise money to pay for a fitting celebration but he also wanted to find someone who would record it for posterity.
''So he put that out into the universe. He also found out Instant Kiwi was getting people to write in with their stories for some commercials they were making.''
Habicht, with a track record of filming real people rather than actors, had been hired for the Instant Kiwi campaign and knew he was onto something when he read James' postcard.
While he was shooting the ad James asked if he would also film his mum's 100th birthday.
''I was trying not to make another documentary but as soon as I stepped into their home I knew it was something special. They instantly welcomed me into their world, into their whānau.''
Habicht said he was going through ''a bit of a tough time'' and was inspired by the mother and son's aroha and connection to Papatūānuku.
Making the film was an intimate experience because most of the time it was just the three of them. James had some film-making experience so he was able to lend a hand.
''It was an incredible week. You couldn't script all the stuff that happened. I was really lucky to be able to capture it.''
James wanted the premiere to be at the Civic, where his mum last saw a movie, though the Auckland landmark is almost always booked out.
Yet, somehow, it was available on the night of her birthday.
Habicht put it down to intervention from ''upstairs'', like many things that happened while he was making the movie.
Like Kaikohe Demolition, James & Isey had an ''amazing spirit'' thanks to the people in it, though there was one key difference.
''Usually I find the subjects for my documentaries, but this time they found me.''
Buses would travel to the premiere from Karetu Marae, near Kawakawa, and Bay of Islands College. The school kapa haka group would perform outside the Civic during the pōwhiri and again on stage before the screening.
The nationwide release on May 6 will include showings in Whangārei, Kerikeri and Kaitaia.
Habicht's other movies include Land of the Long White Cloud (2009) about the Ninety Mile Beach Snapper Classic fishing contest; Love Story (2011), filmed during an arts residency in New York; and Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets (2014) about the English indie-pop band Pulp and the people of Sheffield, the group's home town.