Māori Film-Maker to study at Sundance Institute

By Wena Harawira

A new scholarship to study at the prestigious Sundance Institute has been awarded to an aspiring Māori film-maker.

Toiroa Williams, 23, will spend a year at the institute in Los Angeles which was founded by actor Robert Redford to advance the work of those working in film and theatre. Nearly 300 people in NZ applied for the scholarship and Toiroa was one of two successful applicants.

"Sundance is the pinnacle for film and documentary and especially people bringing their own talent to that area to showcase," he said.

"Working within the Native American department at Sundance I think I will learn a lot about how the system is run and how you can push your content, your stories out there to the world."

Toiroa has been making films since he was at high school in Opotiki. His thesis for a Masters degree at AUT included a documentary looking at the key factors in Opotiki leading to the success of its Māori youth such as Boy actor, James Rolleston.  

"It's what makes the town great, not only the whenua but also the people. Hand in hand, it’s something you can’t buy. It’s a part of you."

Toiroa will take up his scholarship at the Sundance Institute next month.