Becs Arahanga/Amberley Jo Aumua/Matasila Freshwater/Dianna Fuemana’s/Mīria George/‘Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki/Marina Alofagia McCartney/Nicole Whippy Dramatic Feature
Māori /Tongan/Samoan | New Zealand | 2019 | 88 min
Toronto Premiere

Saturday, October 26, 2019 | 12:30pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 2

Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 7:00pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinema 1

From the producers of Waru (2017), comes a new and highly anticipated portmanteau film written and directed by a sisterhood of Pacific filmmakers, and shot on location in seven different pacific countries. Themes of womanhood, tradition, and empowerment are explored through the story of the eponymous character of Vai who is portrayed at various stages in her life from the age of seven to eighty by eight different actresses.

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Becs Arahanga wrote and directed the short film Laundry which had its international premiere at imagineNATIVE in 2017 and was selected for the New Zealand International Film Festival ‘Best Shorts’. Becs latest short film, Hinekura, is having it’s North American Premiere at imagineNATIVE this year.


Amberley Jo Aumua is a writer/director. Her first short film Waiting (2017) won the Jury Prize for Best Film at the New Zealand International Film Festival, Best Student Film at the Show Me Shorts International Film Festival and was in competition at Toronto International Film Festival. Her short film Moa Ma Le Pinko (Chicken & Bingo, 2018) screened at imagineNATIVE in 2018.


Matasila Freshwater is a writer/director with a background in anthropology, film, and animation. She is passionate about exploring cultural complexities through storytelling. Matasila’s last animated short film Shmeat (2016), was a New Zealand International Film Festival Official Selection for New Zealand’s Best Short Film.


Dianna Fuemana’s career as a playwright and theatre director spans twenty years with her plays being published and produced internationally. She delved into film-making in 2012 when she won the Script to Screen Writers’ Internship with Killer Films in NYC. Her first short film Sunday Fun Day won the Sun Jury Prize at imagineNATIVE in 2017.


Mīria George is a poet and writer, director, producer of theatre. As an award-winning playwright, Mīria’s work toured New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the United Kingdom. Her plays include And What Remains, Sunset Road, The Vultures and The Night Mechanics. The Wet Season is Mīria’s debut collection of poetry, published by the Wai-te-ata Press. Vai is Mīria's film directorial debut.


'Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki (Talau & Falaleu - Vava'u/ Vaini & Malapo - Tongatapu) is guided by gender equity, feminism, human rights and human rights. She loves most is telling stories and prioritises giving voice to the lived realities of women and children's stories across the Pacific.


Marina Alofagia McCartney is powerfully aware of her cultural heritage, how this affects the way we are viewed, and how we view others. She holds an MA in Screen Production (First Class Honours) and is an award-winning filmmaker and teaching fellow at Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.


Nicole Whippy was born in Suva, Fiji where she lived for the first couple of years of her life until her family migrated to NZ. She is best known for her work as a Television and Theatre Actress. Vai will be her film directorial debut.