Documentary portrait of pioneering filmmaker
An intimate story of the birth of indigenous cinema told from the perspective of Merata’s son Hepi Mita.
The sudden death of pioneering Māori filmmaker Merata Mita in 2010 led her son on a journey to uncover a story of a mother’s love that changed the landscape of indigenous participation in film forever. As a film archivist Hepi uncovers never before seen footage and shares deep personal accounts of her life that led her to blaze the trail for many indigenous voices we celebrate today; Warick Thorndon, Taika Waititi, Sterlin Harjo and Zoe Hopkins to name a few. This film is an important historical account of a movement we owe our indigenous voice to.
Merata was the first Māori woman to write and direct a narrative feature in 1988 titled MAURI. Merata’s political films highlighted the injustices for Māori people during the 1980’s and often divided the country. She became an international hero with her work but considered a domestic nuisance. Merata worked across the globe and for various respected organisations including the BBC and National Geographic. She directed on Hollywood sets, interviewed Robert Mugabe and followed Louis Farakhan, there was nothing she was afraid of especially if it meant a voice for the voiceless. She was fearless. But the suffering of her family during these times was all too real. Her drive for social justice would have to be weighed against the dangers her work would expose them to. Merata Mita is the grandmother of Indigenous Cinema. This film is a dedication to her life’s work towards that goal.
“[Director Merata Mita ] deserves more than most to have her story and her work remembered, re-evaluated and celebrated. Her own son has achieved all that.” – Stuff.co.nz
“Merata Mita is a pioneer in film that most people outside New Zealand don’t know, and… “Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen” goes a long way of correcting that blind spot and furthering her mission to bring different voices to movies.” – The Movie Cricket