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Making A Film Festival That Lasts

Making A Film Festival That Lasts

Monday, 31 October 2005,

This year, the Wairoa community played host to a Maori film festival of national and international stature. With the support of a diverse range of sponsors and supporters, the inaugural Wairoa Maori Film Festival became a reality, and people flocked from near and far to see the best from our heritage archives and from new and emerging Maori and international indigenous film-makers.

As a follow-up to the festival, organisers are developing a long-term Strategic Plan, to ensure a viable future for the project, and build a festival that lasts. A discussion paper, entitled "Towards A Sustainable Wairoa Maori Film Festival," has been released for public comment and input.

This discussion paper is both a "stocktake" of what the festival has achieved for our community, our nation, and our film industry and also an opportunity for stakeholders in this project - including all the residents of Wairoa - to make input into the future directions of the festival.

How often should the festival be held? Should the festival be in winter, to honour the rebirth of "Matariki", or in summer, to celebrate the glorious East Coast summer? Should this be an annual event, and place itself on the international indigenous film festival calendar? Or should we make the festival that bit more "special" - something to wait for - by making it biennial or triennial, like the arts festival in Wellington or WOMAD in Taranaki?

Does the festival focus on the local community, building and supporting local and regional talent in film? Does the festival look to build on the success of Whale Rider, supporting Wairoa and the East Coast as a hub for Maori film-making? How do we support the national Maori film and television industry, such as by profiling new film making talent?

How do we contribute to district-level and regional economic development outcomes? Situated halfway between "Whale Rider" to the north and "Wine Country" to the south, how can Wairoa capitalise on regional cultural and food tourism opportunities to tap into the unlimited potential of our district?

How can we make this festival sustainable? A sustainable festival is one that can continue on an ongoing basis, and contributes in a balanced manner to social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes. Perhaps an annual festival is too much to ask of a small community like Wairoa? Or perhaps an annual festival could become an event that "defines" the town, much as the annual Wild Food Festival in Hokitika does for the tiny burg there?

We seek your input on all of the above questions, and more. Three different scenarios have been developed as part of the Strategic Planning process, as follows:

* Community Support: Under this scenario, the festival would focus upon being a community-based event, building its strength slowly over time from the local and regional community. There would be support for local film-makers, and translating local stories to the screen. There would be less of an emphasis on community development, and involving the national film industry. Longer-term, the festival would have more of an organic, flaxroots feel to it, supporting local initiative and community projects.

* Industry Support: Under this scenario, the festival would focus upon supporting the film industry, and Maori and indigenous film-makers. Elements of the festival, such as wananga and screenwriter workshops, would focus solely on supporting the national film industry. This could include a focus on highlighting emerging Maori film-makers. There would be an attempt to put the festival "on the map" as part of the international circuit of indigenous film festivals.

* Regional Economics: Under this scenario, the focus would be upon maximising economic benefits to local and regional businesses. There would be a strong marketing push to our urban centres and to the tourist market. Other events on a similar theme would be paired to the Maori Film Festival, such as a Maori Food Festival or an arts and culture festival. In the long-term, the emphasis would be upon building upon the strengths of the national stature of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, creating a landmark annual event with national profile.

The above three scenarios are not necessarily mutually exclusive. What each expresses is an area of emphasis for festival organisers, to take the festival out in a particular direction to meet a wide range of objectives.

We encourage you to read through the discussion document, and think about what kind of Wairoa Maori Film Festival you would like to see in future. We look forward to hearing from you - your thoughts are important to us, and will assist in making a Wairoa Maori Film Festival that lasts!

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival Strategic Planning Discussion Document is available to download online at:

The Wairoa Maori Film Festival Strategic Planning Discussion Document has been developed with the generous support of the Ministry of Economic Development - Regional Initiatives Fund.


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