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Ngā Taonga launches fifth annual Siapo Cinema: Oceania Film Festival 2018

Nga Taonga and Siapo logos

Siapo strip

The fifth annual Siapo Cinema: Oceania Film Festival returns to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision from 12-20 October 2018. The festival programme showcases vibrant stories of the Pacific on film with a range of Pacific features, short films and unique events. Highlights include the premiere of Lisa Taouma’s Marks of Mana, and a special evening celebrating the achievements of award-winning actor, director, writer and producer, Nathaniel Lees.

Siapo is the Samoan word for tapa cloth and a friend of the festival aptly suggested the name as a play on the word ‘sepia’ used to describe the colour tone of early film. The festival continues its tradition of showcasing the earliest to the latest in moving image culture from around Oceania. There are also various associated workshop and discussion events.

Mishelle Muagututi'a, Documentation Archivist at Ngā Taonga and lead curator of the festival programme says: “Each year Siapo Cinema throws up fascinating, challenging, intriguing and surprising films from around Oceania and the 2018 programme has done it again. From student film-makers to living legends, the range and diversity of films, artists and events is staggering.”

This year's festival opens with a special evening introduced by Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, dedicated to the work of the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision archive. Among the highlights of the festival programme are: a selection of dance works recorded on film curated by Pacific Dance NZ & Pollywood; a short film programme from emerging to classic short films; tertiary Pacific Studies engagement in our Cinema; the premiere of documentary Marks of Mana; a workshop with artist Jasmine Togo-Brisby; and a Polysexual discussion around gender and sexuality with local filmmakers.

Siapo Cinema: Oceania Film Festival runs from Friday 12 October until Saturday 20 October at the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision cinema, Taranaki Street, Wellington.

Follow the hashtag #siapocinema2018 on social media, Siapo Cinema Facebook page ( ) and keep up with the latest happenings at the festival by clicking 'interested' on our Siapo Facebook Event.

The full programme list is below. Screening dates and times are on the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision website.

Hibiscus and Ruthless
From the writer of 2016's Three Wise Cousins comes a female-led comedy about friendship, loyalty and love. Hibiscus is in her final year of university. She promises her mother "no going out and no boyfriends" - and enlists her friend Ruth to manage the flow of guys trying to impress her.

Siapo Cinema Shorts
This year’s Siapo Cinema Shorts programme brings together a diverse selection of short dramas and documentaries. From airport cleaners to wrestlers, these five, 15-minute films offer something for everyone!

Pacific Dance On Screen
From Māori mythology to Macklemore, Rarotongan weddings to Janelle Monae, Siapo Cinema is honoured to present this compilation of 9 dance films, curated by Pacific Dance and Pollywood.

Marks of Mana
The World premiere of Marks of Mana by Lisa Taouma is the first feature film dedicated to the practise of female tatau in the Pacific. It looks at the sacred symbols of our past and what they meant, and how they live on through the hands of female tatau (tattoo) artists today.

Despite the on-going influence of outside forces and western frameworks of religion and thought, Polynesia has held fast (if sometimes tenuously) to indigenous beliefs around gender and sexuality.

Leitis in Waiting
This is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific kingdom. It follows Joey, a devout Catholic of noble descent, as she organizes an exuberant beauty pageant and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that criminalize the leitis' lives.

The New Oceania
Samoan-born Albert Wendt is a leading South Pacific novelist, poet and dramatist. This documentary, filmed throughout the Pacific by one of Aotearoa's leading documentary teams, is an engaging portrait of the man and the Pacific artists he has inspired.

A Special Evening in with Nathaniel Lees
Join us as we honour Maiava Nathaniel Lees for his outstanding contribution to theatre and film. From The Matrix, to Power Rangers, Mortal Engines and Sione’s Wedding, Nat Lees is a well-known, award-winning actor, director, writer and producer.

Moana Reo Māori
We are delighted to be working with Matewa Productions and Disney Studios to present Moana Reo Māori. In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the demigod Maui reaches Moana’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things rights.

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