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By Stephen Heard
March 22, 2021
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By Stephen Heard
March 22, 2021
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After being disrupted in 2020, the Māoriland Film Festival is heading back for its eighth run this March. The multi-day event will present 120 films from 80 Indigenous nations over five days in March (24–28).

The theme for this year's festival is 'auahatanga mō te ngākaupai' meaning 'creative positivity' and tipping its hat to those who turned to storytelling to make sense of the uncertain and extraordinary circumstances across the globe in 2020.

The Māoriland Film Festival will open with the world festival premiere of Cousins, the film adaptation of the novel by iconic Māori writer Patricia Grace. Directed by Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith, the story follows Mata, Makareta and Missy — three cousins separated by time and their long journey to find each other.

From Métis Cree (Canada) documentarian Loretta Todd comes Monkey Beach. Based on Eden Robinson's award-winning novel of the same name, the 2020 film is a story about a young Indigenous woman returning to her hometown to discover how dysfunctional her family has become.

Other films screening at the festival include Indigenous Nigeria's first-ever animated film Lady Buckit and the Motley Mopsters, and the striking documentary Love and Fury from Native American director Sterlin Harjo. The latest feature film from multi-award-winning Mohawk (Canada) director Zoe Hopkins, Run Woman Run, will be screened on closing night.

MFF2021 will also present a program of films created during the pandemic. These serve as an Indigenous reflection on an unprecedented year, featuring films by way of Norway, Malaysia, Hawaii, Finland, Australia, Brazil and Aotearoa. There will be screenings of short film collections throughout the festival, which have been submitted from native people across the globe.

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