The Wairoa Maori Film Festival in its 12th year in 2017 grew the number of Pasifika films showing during the festival and added two new Pasifika awards during the annual Wairoa Film Festival Awards Night.

From Tusi Tamasese’s ‘One Thousand Ropes’ to a curated programme of shorts in the ‘Kiriata Pasifika’ programme to hosting a number of Pasifika filmmakers from the region (Tahiti, Hawai’i as well as from Aotearoa), Wairoa has become a mecca not only for indigenous Maori filmmakers but also for wider Pasifika film making.

Set in the intimate surrounds of Kahungunu Marae the Kiriata Pasifika programme showcased the works of Robert George, two films produced by Multinesia Productions (Maria and Promise of Piha), as well as those of two newly graduated filmmakers – Amberley Aumua (Waiting) and Maria Vai (I Have Curls).

   

Photos above: screening of ‘I Have Curls’ by Maria Vai, filmmakers Amberley Aumua and Maria Vai talk with Louisa Opetaia (PIFT Board) and Karin Williams (Multinesia Productions). Group photo after powhiri.

Pasifika films and filmmakers featured in other parts of the festival programme including a showing of Hawai’ian films in the Kiriata Hawai’i section.

THE WAIROA MAORI FILM AWARDS NIGHT

The two new awards presented on the night are: ‘Mana Moana Award’, for best Pasifika short and the ‘PIFT Mana Pasifika Award’, given for services to Pasifika film arts.

PIFT would like to congratulate all of the winners but especially the winners of these two inaugural awards.

Photo: Craig Fasi with Karen Williams holding her award for ‘Maria’

Mana Moana Award – Maria by Jeremiah Tauamiti (Multinesia Productions, 2016), accepted by Karin Williams
PIFT Mana Pasifika Award – Craig Fasi of Pollywood Pasifika Films

    

Photos: at the Awards Night, Craig receives his award, Craig with Tame Iti and Popo Lilo (who ceremonially presented the award), Craig with PIFT board members Louisa Opetaia and Aaron Taouma

Awardee: Craig Fasi of Pollywood Pasifika Film

Craig Fasi has been a stalwart of the Pasifika film scene in Auckland for a number of years. For the past 15 years he has run the Pollywood Pasifika Film Festival, an initiative which has seen over a hundred short films screened and exposed Pasifika film to audiences numbering in the thousands.

The PIFT board in consultation with Leo Koziol (Wairoa Festival Director) agreed that as an inaugural award recipient Craig possessed the qualities we were seeking to honour. The PIFT Mana Pasifika Award is given for services in the development of Pasifika Film Arts.

Craig in delivering the Pollywood Pasifika Film Fest for the past 15 years (with little or no funding support) has provided a platform from which community and film-making can intersect. Pollywood provides not only an outlet by which filmmakers can display their wares, it also provides an impetus for some to create (specifically to be screened at Pollywood) and also sets a space in which a community atmosphere is supportive of filmmakers, their families and friends.

PIFT would like to thank the New Zealand Film Commission Talent Development for assistance in travelling Craig, his supporters and PIFT members to take part in Wairoa 2017 to present this award.

Congratulations Craig Fasi!

Katoua: the Warrior Spirit

The 2017 Mana Pasifika Award presented to Craig Fasi was crafted by senior Pasifika artist John Ioane and commissioned by PIFT. The work is titled ‘Katoua’ which in general in Niuean is the name used to describe a war club but in this sense is the embodiment of the Niuean warrior spirit. The significance of the katoua here carrying the spirit of the ancestors and representing Pasifika – the body made out of totara, the handle wrapped in sinnet from Samoa, shells from the Cook Islands, and etched into the lower back a hiapo (Niuean Tapa) design signifying the passage of life.  Ioane has said of the work that it is a personal offering due to his connection with both Craig and Pollywood over the years.

Find out more about Craig Fasi and Pollywood

Graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from MIT in 2000 Craig began
his Journey in film with an organization called The Moving Image Centre
(MIC), based in the Arch Hill Gallery, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Working as a
curatorial assistant, Craig was tasked with intense research of the MIC
archives to familiarize himself with the ‘Industry’ in terms of local
and international visual work.

Craig immediately recognized the need for more Pasifika content within
the Archives and so began the hunt for unique Pasifika stories and
multimedia art. 2001 birthed the very first ‘Pacific Island Short Film
Night’, playing to a full house. Word travelled fast and invitations to
take the films out to the community flowed in. A highlight from that
time was speaking to communications students at the Auckland University
about the films – A recent graduate himself, Craig was taken back by the
opportunity but soon found a natural ability to share his knowledge.

In 2002, The Auckland Council invited Craig to screen his Pasifika film
compilation in a purpose built marquee for the masses at the Western
Springs Pasifika Festival – hence ‘Pollywood’ was born.

Now 15 years old – Pollywood is well known in the Pasifika community
locally and throughout the Pacific. Showcasing Pasifika work from around
the world and encouraging more Pasifika storytellers to immortalize
their work on screen. Providing a platform and staunchly promoting
Pasifika pride.

Proud to be a ‘non-profit’ organization that receives no major funding –
Pollywood Pasifika Film survives today thanks to the many supporters and
organizations who believe in the importance of cultural empowerment. “I
am determined to keep the Pollywood fire burning – Film is a powerful
medium for our countless untold stories to be realized” Says Craig Fasi.