A short film about the inner turmoil of an elderly Samoan man who is tackling his own sense of weakness and shame is set to screen alongside the country's best films of 2012.
The New Zealand 2012 International Film Festival kicks off later this month and has a programme of around 150 features. It includes Tatau a short film by Auckland University screen production master's student and Sandringham resident Chantelle Burgoyne.
It is one of seven shorts selected for the Nga Whanaunga Maori Pasifika shorts programme.
The main character in Tatau, Siaki, not only faces losing his sight, he is also trying to deal with the lifelong shame of having an incomplete traditional tattoo.
The tattoo is a commitment to Samoan culture and is said to be the highest form of clothing a person can wear.
As Siaki's vision deteriorates, memories of the painful tattooing ceremony he underwent in his youth haunt him as he yearns to see his tattoo completed before it's too late.
The man's character is based on Ms Burgoyne's real life grandmother, who lives next door to the family.
"I see it as a really human story. The more culturally specific you are, the more universal it becomes."
Milk and Honey by Marina McCartney will also show at the festival.
It recalls the notorious dawn raids on Pasifika families during the mid 1970s and early 1980s.
The film is among six finalists in the inaugural Best Short Film Competition.
The drama follows two Samoan immigrants who are forced to contemplate their futures after being subjected to the dawn raids.
"There's been plenty of documentaries about it but not many fictional pieces," Ms McCartney says.
"Most young people associate the phrase `dawn raid' with the record label."
The Pt Chevalier resident has a close family member who was arrested in the raids. "That was quite an emotional discussion. I promised myself that I'd make a short film about it."
She developed the idea of a family member being arrested by a Pacific Island police officer and says despite the police officer being in charge, he is still a prisoner of the situation.
There's also a unique link between the two films – Ms McCartney's piece stars Shortland Street actor Robbie Magasiva and Ms Burgoyne's piece stars Mr Magasiva's father.
Ms McCartney says being accepted for the festival "gives us the confidence that what we are doing is a little bit right".
The pair agree that the next big test will be when they each make another film.
The New Zealand 2012 International Film Festival runs from July 19 to August 5. Go to nzff.co.nz to find out more or pick up a festival programme at the Civic Theatre, Queen St, Rialto Cinemas Newmarket, Auckland Art Gallery, Skycity or Bridgeway Cinemas.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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