DOXA 2019 review: Merata: How Mum Decolonized the Screen

(New Zealand)

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      There's so much here to recommend. Her most well-known achievement was the 1988 film Mauri, the first-ever feature directed by an Indigenous woman, but Merata Meti's entire life and career is covered in this doc, made by Hepi Meti, the youngest of her six children.

      He was born into a relatively peaceful situation, the one son Meti had with celebrated New Zealand filmmaker Geoff Murphy. Prior to that, the wickedly intelligent woman from a tiny Maori village courted outrage and received condemnation for her fearless choices both personal and professional. As Hepi notes, Mum's life seemed uncannily entwined with the political arc her country was taking, and filmmaking, it seems, was a matter of destiny. Her 1983 doc Patu!, about the notorious tour of New Zealand by South Africa's national rugby union team, the Springboks, made Merata (and her children) a target of the government, the cops, and violent racists. But she became a giant abroad.

      As for the film's title, Alanis Obomsawin and Taika Waititi among others are on board to testify to Merata's blinding influence and success in that particular mission. Don't miss it.