Eight connected stories. One life-changing event
8 x 10 minute sequences shot by eight individual female Maori filmmakers combine to form a narrative that weaves around the death of a young boy in a Māori community.
Eight female Māori directors worked together to produce this portmanteau film which offers a fascinating insight into Māori culture. The film comprises 8 x 10 minute segments, presented as a continuous shot in real time, unfolding around the funeral of a small boy who died at the hands of his caregiver. Waru means 8 in Māori. The vignettes are all subtly interlinked, each following one of eight female Māori lead characters as they come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward in their community.
Charm, Queen of the Kitchen – Charm learns to accept that she can’t change the world.
Anahera – A teacher struggles to keep face, hiding infidelities and guilt over Waru’s death.
Mihi – A solo parent learns to listen to her children.
Em – A young woman hits rock bottom and realises that the only way is up.
Ranui – A kuia relinquishes Iwi pride in order that her mokopuna might find spiritual peace.
Kiritapu – A young wahine Māori reporter risks everything to set the story straight.
Mere – A teenage girl draws strength from her ancestors to expose her abuser.
Titty & Bash – A woman risks life to break the cycle of violence.
Official Festival Selections:
New Zealand International Film Festival 2017
Toronto International Film Festival 2017
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018
★★★★ – “a remarkable achievement – authentic, impassioned, unexpected – that stands as a testament to the radical power of cooperative film-making” — Mark Kermode, The Observer
★★★★ – “There’s something uniquely powerful about this portmanteau film made entirely by Māori women directors“— Katherine McLoughlin, The List
★★★ – “Waru lingers, disquietingly, in the mind” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“a very, very brave and important piece of filmmaking” — Mark Kermode, BBC Radio 5 [01:49:34 – 01:52:06]
“eight carefully constructed vignettes combine into a powerful whole” — Nikki Baughan, Sight & Sound
“Where are you? the film asks… Waru also speaks presciently and powerfully to the current moment in film culture“ – So Mayer, Literal Magazine
“Confronting, compassionate and complex, Waru demands to be seen” — Dominic Corry, NZ Herald
“Why this Kiwi drama might just be the best movie of 2017” — Graeme Tuckett, Stuff
“Stylistic boldness and an implicit call to arms make Waru a breathtaking watch” — Peter Calder, Noted
6 Jul, 6.30pm: The Lexi Cinema, London – followed by panel discussion with Aperture Curator, Sonali Joshi, and So Mayer. So Mayer is the author of “Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema”, and has written about Indigenous women’s and Two-Spirit filmmaking and writes for publications including Alphaville, Poetry Review, Literal and Sight & Sound.
Directed by: Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Chelsea Cohen, Renae Maihi, Paula Jones, Awanui Simich-Pene
Screenplay: Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Chelsea Cohen, Renae Maihi, Paula Jones, Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu
Producers: Kerry Warkia, Kiel McNaughton
Cinematography: Drew Sturge
Editor: Rajneel Singh
Music: Lauren King
Production Designer: Riria Lee
Costume Designer: Lindah Lepou
Cast: Tanea Heke (Charm), Roimata Fox (Anahera), Ngapaki Moetara (Mihi), Awhina-Rose Ashby (Em), Maria Walker (Kiritapu), Kararaina Rangihau (Ranui), Merehaka Maaka (Hinga), Acacia Hapi (Mere), Antonio Te Maioha (Tapu), Miriama McDowell (Bash), Amber Curreen (Titty)
Country of production: New Zealand
Running time: 88 mins
Languages: Māori/English + subtitles