Sunday, November 8, 2009

Budding AUT Māori, Pasifika filmmakers now have sights on media industry

By Violet Cho: Pacific Media Centre

Winners at AUT University’s inaugural Flavorz09 film festival for student video makers on Friday night say they are now inspired to break into the industry.

Sophie Johnson, who won the year three prize of $350 for her 12 minute documentary, The Makings of a Kaitiaki, was delighted with her success.

“I worked quite closely with a group of eight people and I know how hard each of them worked. I feel really honoured to receive this tonight,” she said.

“It was so amazingly rewarding. Then to be able to see your images up on the big screen like this, and see people’s reactions, it is so rewarding.”

The film was a short biopic about kuia Nganeko Minhinnick, a kaitiaki of the Manukau.

Hosting the public showing of 11 Māori, Pasifika and diversity short films for AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, presenter John Utanga, a producer of TVNZ’s Tagata Pasifika programme, was impressed with the quality.

Utanga, who is also chair of the PMC, pledged to consider some of the programmes for possible broadcast.

His message to communication studies students was to strive for quality work and to have a good attitude.

‘Affectionate look’
The second-year prize of $150 went to Karleen Bidois, Ashleigh McEnaney and Natasha Munton for their four minute documentary Ka Tuituia, described as an “affectionate look at Isabella Sharrock, her whanau and her Karakeke taonga”.

Bidois said she hoped to work with Māori Television when she graduated.

“I feel emotional, excited and very surprised by the outcome. But I also know that I worked really hard to produce such a film from the bottom of my heart.”

She had not realised her passion for media before coming to AUT.

“Now I am hungry for it and I want to do it for the rest of my life.”

Organiser Dr David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre, said the festival was an “inspirational showcase” for quality programmes being made by students on Māori and Pasifika themes.

One film, Beyond the Ropes, also featured women’s wrestler Sangita Patel, a New Zealand-born Indian known in the business as “Alita Capri”.

Tongan music
Strong applause also greeted the documentary The Modern Afo of Tonga, directed by John Pulu, which features Tonga Kru and Three Houses Down and examines temporary Tongan music styles.

Pulu’s programme is being broadcast on the Pacific Viewpoint television show.

The festival was supported by television staff, including acting curriculum leader James Nicholson and Jim Marbrook, and Tui O’Sullivan, equity coordinator in AUT’s Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies, who also gave a mihi.

O’Sullivan said she was delighted with the festival.

“It would be great if it could be an annual event because the calibre of the work is really impressive.”

Pictured: Top: Kuia Nganeko Minhinnick in a still from Sophie Johnson's The Makings of a Kaitiaki; presenter John Utanga, of Tagata Pasifika; and television lecturer Jim Marbrook with students. More pictures on Pacific Scoop.

Violet Cho is a postgraduate journalism student from Burma in AUT’s School of Communication Studies.