Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

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Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen

Directed by Hepi Mita

  • New Zealand 2018; 87 min
  • Original version: English
  • Genre: Documentary

Synopsis

As the archivist of Merata Mita’s work, her youngest son Hepi Mita embarks on a journey through his mother’s life. Creating a dialogue between her work as a filmmaker and her personal life, his unique excavation reveals how deeply connected the personal, the political, and the creative were for the late Merata Mita (1942–2010). The first female Maori director’s career began in the 1970s with the observational documentaries Bastion Point: Day 507 and Patu!. Her debut fiction film Mauri (1988) was not only the first film to be made by a Maori woman, it was also the first feature film ever to be made by an Indigenous woman anywhere in the world. Interweaving a wealth of archive footage with extracts from her interviews, as well as her children’s memories, Merata’s personal story - of being Maori, a woman, a mother and a filmmaker in Aotearoa - speaks to the wider experiences and universal struggles that are still being faced by Indigenous filmmakers everywhere in the world today. This documentary does not only shed light on a resilient woman who fought for her goal to ‘indigenise the screen’ - it also reveals the strain this kind of political work was to have on her family.

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