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Opening Night Gala

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Chelsea Cohen, Ainsley Gardiner, Briar Grace-Smith, Paula Jones,
Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene, Katie Wolfe, Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu

Aotearoa New Zealand | 2017 | 86 min | English | Dramatic Feature

Wednesday, 18 October 2017 | 7:00 PM
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Screening as part of Opening Night

A sisterhood of Māori filmmakers join forces to tell the story of a young boy who dies at the hands of his caregiver. Deeply emotional, challenging and tender, the story of Waru’s death is reflected in the lives of eight Māori women during the same 10 minutes on the morning of his funeral. Their individual stories - at times seemingly disparate - beautifully weave together to illustrate a community mourning a tragic death while revealing the unrelenting strength that lies deep in the hearts and minds of Indigenous women. This remarkable feature is brave, ambitious filmmaking and is one that resonates with the full complexities of grief, love, and survival. Each of the eight, 10-minute segments - told in real time - is directed and written by a different artist and each is filmed in a single shot, creating a visual tapestry unlike any seen in Indigenous Cinema.


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Chelsea Cohen (Ngāti Ranginui) is a filmmaker with over 10 years’ experience. A mother of three, she has directed and produced award-winning work, including Saving Grace and What We Do in the Shadows.

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Ainsley Gardiner (Ngāti Awa/Ngāti Pikiao/Te-Whānau-a-Apanui) is a producer of such award-winning works as the Oscar-nominated Two Cars, One Night and the international  hit BOY. In addition to Waru, she has written and directed Mokopuna, her first short film.

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Briar Grace-Smith (Ngāti Hau/Ngāpuhi) is an award-winning writer and director. She is a Sundance alumna and the writer of the feature films The Strength of Water and the horror comedy Fresh Meat.

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Paula Jones (Te Aitanga a Māhaki) has been working in television production for 20 years specializing in directing, research and writing, mainly in the field of documentary.

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Casey Kaa’s (Ngāpuhi/Tainui) passion for children and her Indigenous language naturally led her to producing children’s television and web content in Te Reo Māori and English over the past decade. Kia Mau, which was Casey’s first solo series, led her to start her own production company in 2015.

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Renae Maihi (Ngāpuhi/Te Arawa/Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed writer and director in theatre and film, many of which have been presented at imagineNATIVE. She is also the co-director of Ka Puta Ko Au, which is in this year’s Festival.

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Awanui Simich-Pene (Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Hāua/Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Apakura) has directed for television and film, and has served as a script supervisor on numerous projects, including Power Rangers and This Is Piki. For Awanui, directing is an extremely-rewarding outlet for creativity, exploration, connection and heart.

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Katie Wolfe (Ngāti Mutunga/Ngāti Tama) works across acting, directing, producing, writing and development in the theatre and screen industries. Her first two short films, This Is Her and Redemption, both premiered at Sundance, went on to screen in the Berlinale and won her the Emerging Filmmaker Award and Best Film Award at ImagineNATIVE 2010.

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Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu is an Auckland-based writer and actor who also works as a casting assistant. She is a graduate of Unitec’s Screen and Performing Arts degree and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Auckland University in film, television and media.