Two teenagers are about to become the youngest directors to debut at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto later this month (October 22-27).
Taipa Area School student Te Mahara Tamehana and Oriwa Hakaraia, from Ōtaki, both 16, will make their international debut with their short film Bub, the story of a small boy who arrives home from kura to discover that his Nan, his whole world, is missing, and his determined efforts to find help.
Oriwa and Te Mahara met in 2017, through the Māoriland Charitable Trust's Through Our Lens programme, which gives rangatahi the opportunity for selection to travel internationally to deliver film-making workshops for their peers in other indigenous nations. They are now both members of Ngā Pakiaka, the MCT's youth leadership programme, which is planning the Māoriland Rangatahi Film Festival and delivering workshops for other young people around the country.
Bub was devised following one of those workshops, and planned over Messenger and Google Docs, defying the 900km separating the pair. It was filmed in January at the Māoriland Hub, on a shoestring budget with a crew blending whānau, rangatahi and professional film-makers.
"The story was inspired by a vision I had of a small boy walking home from school with no shoes. The vision evolved, and the story we have now came from that.
"We wanted to make it as real as possible," Oriwa said.
"My dream is to spend my life making films, whether they're small scale or big scale," she said.
"My goal is to continue working in the industry, and make films that inspire people and tell stories from a Māori point of view. I want to show people that age isn't and shouldn't be an obstacle when it comes to making films."
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival was founded in 2000 to support the diverse, contemporary work of indigenous directors, producers and screenwriters working in film, video, audio and digital media from around the world.
Oriwa (Ōtaki), a Year 11 student who is fluent in te reo Māori, has already won several national youth short film awards, while Bub is her first professional short film. In 2015 her documentary Koro Puppeteer was the primary/intermediate winner in the Outlook For Someday Awards, and she has already shared her film-making skills with youth in Tahiti (2017) and Rarotonga (2018).
Her aim is to premiere a film at the Sundance Film Festival.
Te Mahara (Ngāti Hine), who is in Year 12 at Taipa, is described as a passionate storyteller dedicated to stories from his own community. He wrote, filmed and directed Confliction, a short film exploring the thoughts that may drive someone to suicide, at a Māoriland Rangatahi film-making workshop in 2017, and later that year was selected to lead workshops in Hawai'i (2017) and again in Rarotonga last year.
He also creates online video content for the Moko Foundation, and in 2017 acted in a Script to Screen short film which is yet to be released.
Te Mahara's ambition is to establish a career as a cinematographer and director.