New Zealand Film Festival

(HawaiiNewsNow) - The New Zealand Film Festival is here in Honolulu! The festival will feature four films highlighting contemporary Maori culture and a dance performance by award-winning troupe Te Kohao Hawaiiki.

WHAT: Aotearoa-New Zealand Film Festival

WHEN: March 10-14

WHERE: Honolulu Museum of Art Doris Duke Theatre

TICKETS: Opening night reception March 17: $25, $20 museum members. Regular screenings: $10, $8 museum members.

The Honolulu Museum of Art celebrates the vibrant traditions of Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Maori culture March 10 to 14 with the first Aotearoa New Zealand film festival. In the lineup are four shining examples of the country's powerful independent cinema movement, including recent audience favoriteThe Strength of Water, international box-office hit Boy, and Hawai'i premieres of Insatiable Moon-the latest film to star Whale Rider's Rawiri Paratene-and award-winning festival favorite Matiriki.

"The Maori word for their homeland is Hawaiki," says theater director Gina Caruso, "and it's clear from watching these powerful films that the connection between the Maori and Hawaiian cultures runs deep. Besides featuring stunning performances and cinematography, the films also explore the deeper meaning of family, community and spiritual identity within Maori culture, and the perseverance of this culture's foundation in contemporary Western culture."

Misa Tupou, a New Zealand actor and organizer of the O'ahu Fringe Festival, advised on the film selection. He says the high quality of filmmaking in New Zealand is due to "a can-do attitude. The film industry didn't happen overnight. A lot of New Zealand filmmakers started doing shorts-they've done a lot of legwork. Back in the 1990s, I saw Taika Waititi doing theater work. By doing his homework he was able to create his recent success with Boy. It all comes down to doing the hard work and learning your craft."

Tupou also points to strong government funding for the film industry through organizations such as the New Zealand Film Commission (Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga), whose funding includes grants of NZ$90,000 to six short films a year. The commission also has six different funding channels for feature films.

The festival opens on March 10 with a reception from 6 to 7:30 p.m. featuring food and wine for purchase and a must-see Maori dance performance by Te Kohao Hawaiiki. The Insatiable Moonscreens at 7:30 p.m.

As part of related programming, the museum also presents a docent-led Spotlight Tour of Maori art March 6 at 1:30 p.m.

The Full Line-Up:

The Insatiable Moon Directed by Rosemary Riddell, New Zealand, 2011, 101 mins., Hawai'i premiere March 10 at 1 + 7:30pmSet in Auckland, The Insatiable Moon is a touching urban fairy-tale about Arthur (Rawiri Paratene, star of Whale Rider), a recovering psychiatric patient who joins a battle to prevent the closure of his local homeless shelter. Joined by a devoted band of fellow shelter residents, a lonely social worker, a hapless local vicar and the shelter's loveable landlord, Arthur brings wonder, hope and humor to the conflict and changes things in ways no one could have predicted.See the trailer.

Boy Directed by Taika Waititi, New Zealand, 2010, 88 mins.March 11 at 1, 4 + 7:30pmObsessed with Michael Jackson, 11-year-old Boy lives a rough-and-tumble existence on a farm with his grandma, his younger brother Rocky, and cousins in Waihau Bay. When Boy's wayward, charismatic father, played by director Taika Waititi, appears out of the blue, he will do anything to make him stay. Boy is the highest-grossing New Zealand film of all time. Official Selection: HIFF, Sundance. Winner: Audience Awards, Berlin, Sydney and Melbourne International Film Festivals.See the trailer.

The Strength Of Water Directed by Armagan Ballantyne, New Zealand, 2008, 86 mins.March 13 at 1 + 7:30pmTen-year-old twins Kimi and Melody live in an isolated Maori community. The arrival of an enigmatic stranger precipitates an accident that forces the twins apart, and Kimi acts out his heartbreaking loneliness in destructive ways while looking after the Melody that only he can see. Official selection: Berlin and Hawaii International Film Festivals.See the trailer.

Matariki Directed by Michael Bennett, New Zealand, 2010, 92 mins., Hawai'i premiereMarch 14 at 1 + 7:30pmA tragic late-night scuffle on the eve of Matariki-the Maori New Year (Matariki is the Maori name for the Pleiades, equivalent to Hawai'i's Makali'i)-brings together eight strangers. This group of Maori, pâkehâ, and Asians find redemption, hope and new beginnings. Official selection: Toronto International Film Festival, Wairoa Maori Film Festival.See the trailer.

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