The film is part of a feature film project called “Vai”, made by eight female filmmakers from Polynesia and Melanesia, including New Zealand-based Miria George, daughter of well-known local artist and educator, the late Ian George.
In an email to former CINews editor Cameron Scott, George, who directed the Cook Islands film, said the feature work was in essence eight stories of one woman named Vai.
“The film is ‘portmanteau’ in style - which more simply put, means “Vai” is told as eight short films played side by side,” George said.
“My film was shot on location in Akaoa, Arorangi, Rarotonga in July 2018. My Aunty Liz Ponga, who lives in Tupapa and is of both Rarotonga and Atiu, was an incredible support providing cultural advice and translations for the film.
“The writing of the film was finished in Rarotonga - where I was mentored closely by Cook Islands film producer Anna Rasmussen and New Zealand Maori screenwriter Hone Kouka.
“I also had infinite help not just from Kay George, but also the local Rarotongan cast including Mama June Baudinet, David Ngatae, young eight-year-old star Teau Goldsworthy, as well as New Zealand-based Cook Islands actors Taungaroa Emile, Patricia Wichman and my lead actress Evotia-Rose Araiti.
“Evotia-Rose, who played my lead character, Vai, is travelling to the International Premiere in Berlin with me. Evotia is also my cousin. The film was shot in our backyard at home in Akaoa - which was a great privilege.
“It was also shot on the back road in Akaoa and in front of The Pacific fish and chip shop. The film’s trailer was released late last week.”
“Vai” is the first feature film to be written, directed and produced by women from the Pacific.
“The International Premiere in Berlin is humbling,” said George. “There are three ‘A-List’ film festivals in the world - Venice Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival - where ‘Vai’ will premiere.
“The work of our local cast and crew absolutely deserves acknowledgement - including Anna Rasmussen, Ani O'Neill, Josh Te Ariki Baker, Henry Taripo, Katu Teiti, the Short family drummers and Jane Tanner,” said George.
“The making of this film is an awesome milestone.”
The film's Facebook page went live last week and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/VaiFilm/
Note: Miria George is of Te Arawa, Ngati Awa, Rarotonga and Atiu and is a poet, and writer for theatre, radio and television. George’s award-winning work has toured New Zealand. In 2007 “and what remains” marked her international debut as a playwright. “He Reo Aroha”, co-written with Jamie McCaskill, premiered in Wellington at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2010. Her work has toured internationally, including Canada, Hawai’i, Australia and the UK. George holds a Masters in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. “The Wet Season” is her debut collection of poetry, published by the Wai-te-ata Press.
George is also a co-founder of Tawata Productions and Tawata Press.