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Saturday 08 April 2017

Ak Pride: Māori, Pasifika & indigenous film

Posted in: Our Communities
By - 11th February 2017

The stories of indigenous queer and gender diverse people will be showcased during the Auckland Pride Festival this year, with a collection of short films screening at the Auckland Art Gallery on Saturday 11 February.

Curated by Leo Koziol, Ngati Kahungunu, Alter-Native explores the dimensions of gender, sexuality and culture amongst Māori, Pasifika and indigenous peoples.

Leo says now that there’s no big gay film festival anymore in Aotearoa, its up to art galleries and independent film festivals to provide the showcase for films to get seen and as part of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival, he is doing just that.

“I’ve been curator of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival for the past 12 years, and seeing such wonderful Takatāpui and Two Spirit works coming through, I’m so thankful to Pride Festival and Auckland Art Gallery for the opportunity to present a themed showcase,” says Leo.

“Tavita/Lani is one such work, by Lawrence Keil, it’s the story of a Samoan trans makeup artist and her desire to be accepted by her religious father, and she does so through her art. And I guess film makers it’s the same, they can seek acceptance and understanding through their art, even if it’s the art of self-acceptance and self-expression.”

Alter-Native brings to the big screen a diverse range of shorts. “We have Māori shorts, Pasifika shorts and Canadian short films. In Canada, the native people see gay people as being “two spirited” or as having both female spirit and male spirit. It is an intriguing world view, to base being gay or queer from your spiritual point of view.”

Leo says the queer and gender diverse community has traditionally been the storytellers in native communities.

“In the past, the two spirit people were also the keepers of the stories and storytelling traditions. This is a tradition that has persisted to this day.”

He says of the accuracy of these stories when translated to film, that “in the indigenous world the question of authenticity is always a vexed one.”

Regarding the films chosen for Alter-Native, he says “I would say all of them strive to be true to themselves, both in terms of being Takatāpui LGBTI Two Spirit people, and in terms of being indigenous – be it Māori, Samoan or First Nation. Many of the film makers are two spirit, so the truth comes from themselves, often reflections of their own true to life experiences.”

Asked whether there is enough support out there for takatāpui film makers to tell takatāpui stories. Leo says the support for Māori film makers is improving, and there’s focused support for Māori women film making.

“But as of yet there hasn’t been support for a collective Māori takatāpui film making project, and that’s something the Māori film festival would like to take the lead on,” he says. “In December, we held a two spirit film making lab in Regina, Canada, and made two short films. The film makers, Candy Renae Fox and Howard Adler, will be coming to New Zealand in June to do a similar lab here in New Zealand. You can see films by both of these film makers at the Alter-Native screening this weekend.”

Saturday 11 February, 1pm - 4pm
Auckland Art Gallery

- 11th February 2017

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