Skip to main content

Merata Mita's Mana Waka, coming to the NZFF.


Merata Mita's Mana Waka (1937-40/1990) will be a high point of the New Zealand International Film Festival this year. In 1937, the Waikato leader Te Puea Herangi engaged cameraman RGH Manley to record the building of two waka taua (canoes), for the 1940 Waitangi centennial commemorations. Manley's footage was not printed. In 1983 Te Arikinui Dame Atairangikahu gave Nga Kaitiaki o Nga Taonga/The New Zealand Film Archive (NZFA) permission to repair and restore the nitrate negatives. Merata Mita (1942-2010) was appointed to construct a new film, and she, editor Annie Collins and NZFA founder and director the late Jonathan Dennis moved to Turangawaewae Marae to edit it. The festival will show a new print, courtesy of the Te Puea Foundation, and made possible through the Saving Frames Project, a partnership between the NZFA, Park Road Post Production and the Government of New Zealand.

There's no trailer for Mana Waka as far as I know. But this morning, as I looked for one, I found a 1997 interview with Merata Mita, made by Karin Williams for Pacific Perspectives on Hawai'i Public Television, and started viewing at Part 3 of three equally rich parts. I wept. Laughed. And was inspired. Here are the clips, with Merata talking about the importance of knowing who you are, about teaching film and demystifying technology, about her experiences of acting, about her journey to becoming a director, about stereotypes, about beleaguered women on Hollywood sets and her experiences there (she didn't want to be a Hollywood director; among other things "I just don't have the testosterone"), about colonisation, and being an activist, about her favorite of all her films. In these clips, Merata's heart, her clarity and courage, remind me all over again of how much the world's lost because of her early death. And made me long for a full retrospective of her work.

Mana Waka on a big screen in a crowded cinema will be very special. It's the first film on my festival list.







More about Mana Waka from 1989, via Peter Calder at the New Zealand Herald.

More about Merata Mita here (a duet from Cushla Parekowhai and me).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

NZ Update #13: The Brilliance of Molly O'Shea

John O'Shea of Pacific Films is a legend in the film history of Aotearoa New Zealand. He died in 2001, aged 81. His daughter Kathy O'Shea, who died in 2010, was a legendary editor. And his grand-daughter, filmmaker Molly, gave this year's John O'Shea Memorial Address at the annual conference of New Zealand's Screen Production & Development Association (SPADA).

The address would be 'delivered by Dame Jane Campion and special guest', according to the SPADA programme. And what a special guest Molly was.

Her address is an instant feminist classic. Just brilliant. Wherever you live, if you want to persuade someone to give women filmmakers a go, entertain and inform them with this clip.
I hope that some of those producers who gave Molly a standing ovation then seized the opportunity to ask to read her pilot script, described by Jane Campion as 'incredible'. Go Molly! I can't wait to see your work.





Saving Mr. Disney: A Lesbian Perspective By Carolyn Gage

To stay focused when I'm writing intensively, I go to the movies in the afternoons. It's a kind of meditation that includes the walk down the hill to the cinema and back up again afterwards. And a few weeks ago, I saw three women-directed movies in three days: Rama Burshtein's Fill The Void, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah and Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said. Maybe things have changed, I thought to myself, ever optimistic. But I also noticed that men wrote and directed Catching Fire, from a novel by a woman, about a young woman and produced by a woman. And then I read Vocativ's analysis of 2013's 50 top-grossing US releases. This shows that almost half were Bechdel Test-passing films and that they did better at the US box office than those that weren't. BUT except for Frozen, which Jennifer Lee co-directed (and wrote) men directed all 50. And then at the weekend, all three of the new releases reviewed in our local paper (with enthusiasm) told s…

NZ Update #3: WIFT New Zealand

This is Part 3 of an NZ Update 4-part series. Part 1 was Gender Breakthrough in New Zealand Film Commission Funding. Part 2 was a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, Paula Bennett, about the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. Part 4 is a not-quite-A-Z of New Zealand women directors and some writers.

So how has Women in Film & Television New Zealand (WIFTNZ) responded to the lack of gender parity between women and men who write and direct, in particular the lack of gender parity in allocation of taxpayer funding? For example, does it endorse Telefilm Canada's statement, referred to back in Part 1 and to some extent implicit in the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC)'s latest Annual Report?–
Based on industry recommendations that these two roles require immediate critical attention, gender parity amongst directors and screenwriters was identified as a priority (emphasis added).The simple answer: No-one Knows For Sure. And because of this, I believe it'…