BY KAAVYA BENJAMIN
The NZIFF recently screened a small collection of short films created by Kiwi’s all over the globe under the title ‘Foreign Correspondents’. It intended to highlight that Kiwi filmmakers have the ability to create narratives in almost any part of the world and bring a distinctly kiwi-esque vibe to storytelling. However, except for one unfortunate selection, all of the films were mainly about family rather than foreign correspondents.
A few of the films were puzzling and not in the thought-provoking kind of way. Take, for example, Last summer by Asuka Sylvie. While a poignant story about the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson, it had a beginning, middle, but no end. We sat there wondering, ‘is that it?’, ‘But then what?’, ‘Surely that can’t be the end?’. Nothing is resolved, nothing is clear.
The next film, Horns of Kolkata by Andrew Scott, is one that we can’t write much about. Not because it was flawless, but because there was nothing in the movie, no substance or purpose to the film. No beginning, no middle, no end. All it consisted of was multiple shots of Kolkata with horns blasting in the background. I wondered if the purpose of the film was to make my ears bleed. I can understand the intention to find something beautiful in the mundane, to bring to the screen aspects of our everyday lives which we may not pay enough intention to. But, this felt like a film that was made by a foreigner who had no understanding of how vibrant Kolkata is and the depth of culture and history that lies there. It does not take much to dig a little deeper.
Thankfully, the rest of the films were what one expects to see when they go to an International Film Festival. Heartwarming, riveting, and well-made. Spinosaurus by Tessa Hoffe featured two amazing child actors and is the kind of story that will break your heart, but you won’t mind because it’s so well-made. The relationship between the two actors was beautiful to watch on screen, filled with tenderness, warmth, and mother-like affection that makes your heartache. While the next film, Shit That One Carries, by Shuchi Kothari will have you re-evaluating your relationship with your parents, no matter how old you are. You’ll be left feeling guilty, grateful, and reaching for the phone to text your parents ‘I love you’. Granted, there was one particular moment that we wish we didn’t see on screen, all we’ll say is that, if you’re squeamish, this probably isn’t the film for you. Trust us or at least keep a paper bag next to you while you watch it.
One Thousand And Fifty Minutes by Gabriel Abreu and Daniel Lynch is a story that every immigrant can relate to. Those moments where the news is filled with clips of chaos unfolding in your motherland and there’s nothing you can do, but call, hope, and pray. The story was well-written and developed, but the poor execution and Abreu’s acting made the film verge on being soap opera-esque.
Last, but definitely not least, A Boy From Rarotonga by Joshua Teariki Baker. It’s a story “of an elderly Cook Islander who is confronted by a connection to a past she had left behind…. and now must look after a grandson she never knew she had”. If the other films hadn’t squeeze some tears from your hardened hearts, then this film will surely have you bawling. An absolute masterpiece from start to finish.
If you haven’t hugged your family in a while, this selection of films will make you want to move them into your one bedroom apartment (you can sleep on the couch, they raised you!).
NIDHA KHAN is a public health graduate and policy student who spends her time writing about human rights, youth activism, and social issues. She’s also a lover of puns, a terrible cook, and is on a mission to hug every pug in sight. You can follow Nidha on Instagram at @nidha01.
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