'Waiting' is selected for the 2017 NZ International Film Festival
Amberley Jo Aumua has the storytelling gift and an eye for reality.
A short film directed by the Manukau resident has been chosen to screen as part of this year's NZ International Film Festival.
The film, entitled Waiting, is a finalist in the festival's 'New Zealand's Best' short film programme.
Established director and producer Gaylene Preston describes Waiting as "an outstanding student film set in a harsh world so rarely presented with such charm married with a sharp aesthetic eye for raw truth".
Waiting was written by Samuel Kamu and also been selected to screen during the 12th annual Wairoa Maori Film Festival in Gisborne from June 2-5.
Kamu and Aumua are graduates of Unitec Institute of Technology's bachelor of performance and screen arts degree.
They made the film as part of their final year study requirements.
Its story uses the brotherhood and friendship of two unrelated boys to shine a light on the hunger for family connections experienced by youngsters within Maori and Pacific communities.
The film, which is set in Auckland, is inspired by the days Kamu spent hanging outside his local dairy during his childhood.
Aumua, who's of Ngati Haua iwi and Samoan descent, says when she first read the script she immediately felt the film could be set in south Auckland. Waiting is the first film she's directed.
"I recognised these boys and girls because I've been one of them myself," she says.
"When people or drive past places in south Auckland that look isolated, places of nothingness, all they see is the rough exterior, but I think there's beauty in being different."
Aumua says there are stories and "things that are not talked about" in such locations.
"It is in these places where you have the most natural and intimate conversations."
She wanted the film to be as realistic as possible.
With a limited pool of Pacific actors to draw on, Aumua brought to the screen people with no acting experience from her own family and community networks.
"I'm a storyteller," she says. "I'm very passionate about it and the power of directing is having your vision presented accurately."
The NZ International Film Festival is in Auckland from July 20 to August 6.