Miria George: film and writers festivals ‘smart’

Saturday August 31, 2019 Written by Published in Education
Miria George sees Rarotonga as a hub of contemporary Pacific arts. 19083063 Miria George sees Rarotonga as a hub of contemporary Pacific arts. 19083063

Playwright, poet, producer and director Miria George says creating a hub of contemporary arts in Rarotonga would be a smart way for the Cook Islands to position itself as the arts centre of the South Pacific.

 

George, who presented the film Vai at the Cook Islands Film Festival during a successful promotional tour of the South Pacific this month, says the film festival created plenty of public interest in contemporary arts, and next week’s Cook Islands Writers’ Festival can only add to that.

She will be in Rarotonga on Monday to attend the week-long event at the Tereora College seminar room, and says she is greatly looking forward to it. She will run two workshops at the event.

“I've been thinking about Rarotonga as a hub of contemporary Pacific arts – with this very public platform the film festival has created.

“And now that is being followed up with the inaugural Writers’ Festival. It’s a very smart way our country could position itself in terms of what the Pacific has to offer.”

Te Kuki ’Airani Film Festival was great – and Josh Baker really gathered a fantastic group of filmmakers there.”

George described the screening of Vai in Rarotonga as a great experience.

“I only heard positive responses to our Rarotonga excerpt, with people being moved by seeing our island onscreen and particularly by Evotia Rose-Araiti’s performance – that she would so fearlessly portray such a defiant character.

“The festival also featured a Tongan feature-length documentary, For My Father's Kingdom, that like Vai made its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2019, that greatly affected its audiences – myself included.

“I heard many locals still talking about how moving the film was – and how courageously the family allowed their story to be told.

“I'm aware that the film festival got myself and others discussing the push to continue telling our own stories, particularly keeping in mind the early work of the late Eruera (Ted) Nia, whose activism and filmmaking combined at some potent times in history.”

George is the daughter of the late Ian George, a respected educator and artist who worked for the Cook Islands Ministry of Education. Over the years he produced highly-regarded work for numerous art exhibitions, some of them in conjunction with his artist wife, Kay.

Wellington, New Zealand-based, Miria George is the co-founder of Tawata Productions and Tawata Press with Hone Kouka. Her-politically charged work addresses issues of colonisation, identity and climate change and has toured New Zealand, Australia, Hawai’i, Canada and the UK.

Of Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Kuki Airani (Rarotonga Atiu) descent, in 2017 George became the first Pasifika woman to be presented with the prestigious $10,000 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award.

She has a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters and was the first Cook Islands artist to receive the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers Residency. Her published works include and what remains (Tawata Press), Urban Hymns (Playmarket) and The Wet Season, Mīria’s debut poetry collection (Wai-te-ata Press).

Vai premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February this year. The film was shot on location in Akaoa, Arorangi, Rarotonga in July 2018 and was crewed by a local Cook Islands film crew, as well as a crew from New Zealand.

-Cameron Scott

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