NZFF Q&A - David Stubbs, director of Belief
Tell us about your film at the film festival
“Belief" is my first theatrical feature film, and I’m very proud to have it premiere at this years NZIFF.
Belief is a documentary about the events that led to the tragic death of Janet Moses in a makutu lifting ceremony that went horribly wrong.
Believing that 22-year-old Janet had fallen under the spell of a Makutu, or Maori curse, her whanau both surround her in a circle of love, and subject the young mother to four days and four nights of water cleansing in an effort to rid her of evil. So great was their belief in Makutu, that it became their truth.
Belief intertwines key interviews and dramatic narrative to lure the viewer into the twisted reality of the last few days of Janet Moses’ life.
Tell us the best moment you had making this film
There have been lots of little highs and lows on this production. Securing a great cast was a big day. The final day of shooting was a mixture of elation and exhaustion. But for me, the best moments have come during the editing process when I’ve seen all the hard work come together. We screened a work-in-progress cut of the film earlier this year and I watched the audience as they watched the film. Seeing the looks on their faces - seeing them totally engaging with the story. That was a real joy.
Tell us the worst moment – and the one thing you left out of this film
Making a film like this is pretty scary undertaking. And here was I taking my cast and crew with me. There were plenty of sleepless nights
Yes, having to leave things out is always hard. There are a couple of really interesting side-stories that didn’t make the final cut. One was a little bit of background on the Wainuiomata community. I love Wainui and I know it sometimes gets a bad rap, so I wanted to show how this is undeserved.
Tell us what this film means to you – and why people should see it.
You might think you know the story of what happened to Janet… or how it happened. But it is so much sadder and more complicated than you can possibly imagine. What would you do if someone you loved was behaving the way Janet was - and if your beliefs and your experience told you it was a spiritual attack? This film looks at the power of love and the power of fear. Two things that we can all fall victim to.
Tell us what films you want to see at the festival.