Award for Māori film exploring dementia

By Jessica Tyson

Māori actress Cian-Elyse White is celebrating her win for her first short film as a writer and director.

Her film Daddy's Girl (Kōtiro), which explores dementia through the relationship of a woman and her father, won the Best Audience Choice Award as part of the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“The special thing about Daddy’s Girl is it is my own story, a reflection of the final days that my kuia was with us here. She had dementia, Alzheimer’s. And also, it is an accurate reflection of my relationships with my pāpā.”

Daddy’s Girl was the only film in the competition made fully in te reo Māori.

“Even though it's in te reo Māori I would like to believe that it’s a universal story and it has heart.”

As part of her prize, White will receive 25 per cent of the box office from the online screenings.

GURL by Mika X

The winner of the Ngā Whanaunga CineMāori Audience Award went to GURL, a 20-minute musical fantasy by artist-activist Mika X.

“It was fantastic to be there in the cinema and hear the laughter. Ngā mihi to cast and crew, Rupe Whanau, supporters, NZIFF and audience," Mika X says.

GURL is a chapter in Mika's planned feature film The Book of Carmen, Mika's retelling of the true story of Carmen Rupe, New Zealands's infamous Māori drag queen, which re-imagines the golden age of New Zealand's bustling 1970s underground sex scene.

"This vote from the audience has given me the confidence that I am the right person to make the authentic feature film about the life of Carmen Rupe, about a person on the outskirts, for all people.”

Mika X receives the $1,000 cash award sponsored by CineMāori, the new online platform for Māori cinema.

"I am donating the $1000 prize money back to the Mika Haka Foundation to support the engagement of Māori, Pacific LGBTQi young adults on the feature."

Starring Jay Tewake, Brady Peeti, Jackie Clarke, Regan Taylor and a sparkling diverse and LGBTQi cast of performers, GURL was written, directed and produced by Mika X, with consulting producers Georgina Condor and Philippa Campbell.