The 36th edition of Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival has kicked off and we decided to dive into some short films. The short films are selected and grouped in themes. Our first duo is part of “Pacific Cinewaves” – cinematic love letters to the living culture of the Pacific.

‘Hinekura’

On the day she gets her first menses, the young woman Hine (Kahumako Rameka) is initiated into adulthood with a ceremony. She’s taken to a school of learning where her role within the tribe is revealed to her. A culturally accurate short drama, shot in New Zealand and completely spoken in Māori.

Writer and director Becs Arahanga briefly introduces key characters, while hinting at their personalities in the different ways they interact with each other, before and after Hine’s ceremony. Cinematographer Simon Temple has a unique and slick way of handling his camera, spotlighting the beauty of Rotorua & Whatatutu’s pristine nature and the actors, who look stunning in their traditional Māori clothing (some even with incredible ta moko). The score and sound of water, tui’s unusual call and ferns rustling in the wind, complete the already perfect picture. Kahumako Rameka is perfect in her first ever on screen role, showcasing not just her ability to act, but also the incredible control she has over her voice when singing alongside her fellow actors. The rest of the ensemble is equally as talented, as they each portray a wide range of roles within the tribe, while we never get the feeling they’re overacting in any way. Every single interaction feels natural, conveying both the strength and unity of each character.

Hinekura‘ is Māori-perfection. Becs Arahanga’s direction is confident, polished and beaming with pride for her culture. She never misses a mark and makes sure even those who didn’t grow up Māori can understand the (his)story.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Liliu’

In colonial Samoa post World War I, ambitious court interpreter Solo risks everything when a wrongfully imprisoned Chief fights to get back to her stranded grandchildren. A tale about tradition, culture and the power of words.

Jeremiah Tauamiti‘s newest short film ‘Liliu‘ is exceptionally powerful. It’s so powerful it moved me to tears. He found a way to recreate an artistic vision of colonizers’ wrongdoings in Samoa, and how it changed an entire population’s way of living. Vito Vito plays the part of interpreter well, but by trying to protect his people from getting punished, he comes across as a traitor. This all changes when Nua (Ana Tuisilia) stands in front of the judge, and refuses to let her life be overthrown by a white man. She also surprises the judge with her educated wise words and willpower. Her important monologue crushed me. Ana Tuisilia’s performance is beyond remarkable and full with dignity, something that can’t go unnoticed, and by the time you have wiped your tears away, the Western Samoan Teachers’ Training College’s rendition of ‘Faleula’ will make you grab for tissues again.

Liliu channels the power of every single Samoan that had to endure the suffering brought on by colonizers. It’s not just a short film, but an essential experience.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hinekura and Liliu both screen as part of LAAPFF’s Short Program, “Pacific Cinewaves” on:
– Saturday, September 26 at 4pm (online)

More information HERE

LAAPFF Short Review – ‘Hinekura’ & ‘Liliu’

Hinekura

Reviewed online (screener provided by LAAPFF), September 26, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 17 min.

PRODUCTION: An AWA Films production. Producers: Kath Akuhata-Brown, Sharlene George. Executive producer: Julian Arahanga.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Becs Arahanga. Editing: Luke Evans. Cinematography: Simon Temple. Score: Steve Gallagher.

WITH: Kahumako Rameka, Mere Boynton, Aporonia Arahanga, Kasina Campbell, Rerehau Haitana, Hinetu Dell, Te Oherere Reneti, Jarod Rawiri, Antonio Te Maioha, Jessie Parata-Aramoana, Manaia Hampton-Aramoana.

Liliu

Reviewed online (screener provided by LAAPFF), September 26, 2020. Rating: TBC. Running time: 17 min.

PRODUCTION: A SunPix production. Producer: Ngaire Fuata.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Jeremiah Tauamiti. Editing: Chris Davis, Peter Roberts. Cinematography: Tim Flower. Score: Matatumua Opeloge Ah Sam.

WITH: Vito Vito, Ana Tuisila, Peter Hayden, Uelese Petaia.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: