Rotorua film fans won't have to travel far to enjoy some of the world's best indigenous movies when the Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival launches in the city this November.

Created and run by award-winning Māori filmmakers, the Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival (RIFF) will bring together the year's best indigenous films from around the globe.

Screenings, of short and feature films, are focused on excellence in indigenous filmmaking and in between there will be a selection of industry workshops.

The workshops will be a chance for young or budding filmmakers to learn from the best, about accessing funding, how to write good stories and the craft of filmmaking.


Organisers Mike Jonathan and Piripi Curtis said it was the first time Rotorua had seen a film festival of this scale.

"The tickets will be sold per session with grouping for around seven to eight short films, with one-off features being shown in the evenings," Curtis said.

The films shown will include work from the Sámi people in the very northern parts of Europe, first nations people of America and Canada, Pacific communities and New Zealand.

"The inaugural theme would be described as 'identity'," Jonathan said.

"It will be films from the perspective of people from around the world, people who are often working in isolation."

The festival is also based around Māori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kotahitanga (unity).

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He said films from the Sápmi region would be particularly interesting to watch.

"These are people from the northern parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia who's lives work around reindeer.

"We have a lot in common with them and they'd be very interesting."

Jonathan said this was the first time anything like this had happened in Rotorua and it would bring a raft of knowledge and opportunity for film in the city.

Curtis was a school teacher for 23 years before moving into television with Māori Television.

"I am now a film and television maker, with short films as part of that as well."

Jonathan had been working in Rotorua for the past 28 years.

"I started as a cameraman and then learnt how to edit and produce.

"I very seriously looked at this as a job in 2005 when I created my first short film."

The hope was for the RIFF to become an annual event.

"We want international directors and filmmakers to follow their films here and keep growing this," Jonathan said.

The team behind the festival were looking for volunteers to help make the festival possible.

"We are looking for volunteers to help with ushering, ticketing, admin, drivers, runners, assistants," Jonathan said.

"It's all happening pretty fast."

The inaugural festival will be held at Destiny's Church in Rotorua on November 1, 2 and 3.

Curtis and Jonathan acknowledged the work of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, the Māorilands Film Festival and imagineNATIVE which had all inspired the creation of RIFF.

What: The innaugural Rotorua Indigenous Film Festival
Where: Destiny Church Rotorua,
When: November 1, 2, 3
Cost: Ticketing information will be available closer to the festival