Honouring Film Pioneers (Press Release)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wairoa, Aotearoa New Zealand. Tuesday March 25th 2008

COMING UP THIS MATARIKI Queen’s Birthday Weekend May 30th to June 2nd is the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, a celebration of Maori and indigenous film achievement. Now in its third incarnation, the Wairoa Maori Film Festival will this year pay tribute to three of our early film pioneers, Witarina Harris, Don Selwyn and Barry Barclay.

Opening the festival will be the classic comedy feature CAME A HOT FRIDAY, starring Don Selwyn and Billy T. James. A Mexican-Maori themed celebration will take place, including a film-makers networking hui sponsored by Nga Aho Whakaari Maori in Film & Television. Other feature films featuring Don Selwyn will be screened, including RANGI’S CATCH and THE LOST TRIBE.

“Don Selwyn was one of the founding Patrons of our festival, and we were greatly saddened by his passing last year,” says Festival Chairperson Huia Koziol, who performed in Maori drama with Don Selwyn at Ardmore Teacher’s college in the 1950s. “Don’s early support helped make the festival a reality, and his legacy will live on both on the screen and in the continued success of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

The festival will honour the memory of pioneer Maori actress Witarina Harris with a piano-accompanied screening of the silent classic UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS. This 1927 feature film will be the Centrepiece of this year’s festival. Witarina Harris passed away early in 2007, at age 101.

Also highlighted at the festival will be the works of Barry Barclay. “Barry Barclay was special guest at the 2006 festival,” says Mrs. Koziol. “The loss of Barry to the Maori film-making community this year leaves a huge gap in our knowledge and dreamscape.”

A special screening of Barry Barclay’s feature documentary THE NEGLECTED MIRACLE will be presented. The documentary explores the plight of indigenous genetic conservation initiatives around the world, with sequences shot in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Australia. Also to be screened will be episodes of the TANGATA WHENUA series, which Barry Barclay directed in collaboration with John O’Shea and Michael King.

“The legacy of these three leaders in the Maori film world will live on, on screen, and in our hearts and minds at this year’s Wairoa Maori Film Festival.”

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Wairoa Maori Film Festival Dates:
Gaiety Cinema and Taihoa Marae, Wairoa
Friday 30th May to Monday June 2nd 2008

MIC Toi Rerehiko & Academy Cinema, Auckland, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Paramount Cinema & NZ Film Archive Mediaplex, Wellington, June 2008 (final dates TBC)
Regent Cinema, Taumarunui, July 2008 (final dates TBC)

AUTHORISED BY: Te Roopu Whakaata Maori I Te Wairoa – Wairoa Maori Film Festival Society Inc.
C/- Box 85, Nuhaka, Wairoa District, Aotearoa New Zealand * Phone 06 837 8854 * Email: maorimovies@gmail.com

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