Friday, 5 April 2019

Vai: Film Review

Vai: Film Review

Kiel McNaughton and Kerry Warkia's powerhouse film Waru, about abuse, was a movie that blazed a trail on the local scene.

Using eight separate stories and eight directors, the film signified something different for film-making and its critical success allowed other wahine to be inspired for the future.
Vai: Film Review

Their follow up treads a similar path of approach, with nine female directors taking on the story of Vai, in different stages of her life. Set across various Pacific islands, the portmanteau approach once again has highs and lows, with the overall film feeling more like a spiritual piece, than a fully fleshed out feature.

However, what emerges from Vai is a strong eye and connection for stories related to the lands, and within the lands they are set. Excellent camera work from those involved give the film a sense of place, and a sense of timing with shots blending into the land, and with set ups being kept within a close frame than would be offered by the likes of drones and so on.

The non-freewheeling camera approach gives the film an intimacy that's seized on by some of the storytelling and that proves to be greatly beneficial. Certainly the short vignette set within school as Vai's reality of existence comes to the fore, and family matters bubble under is one of the more powerful of the portmanteau.
Vai: Film Review

Ultimately, while Vai has less of the power of Waru, it certainly has more of the spirituality with restrained camera work and direction capturing some traditions for posterity that are wondrous to behold, and which have resonance as they play out.

There may not be a familiar narrative thread running throughout allowing for an easy follow, but there's a familiar theme in Vai of the power of the female, and of the indigenous connection to the land.

It's sparsely stirring stuff when it needs to be, and while overall, Vai may not find a wider audience or stir up as much emotion as Waru did, its commitment to giving a platform for different voices to tell one longer form story in chunks is more than commendable.

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