Feature Film (New Zealand)
Duration: 90 minutes
A film about female empowerment that spans the breadth of the Pacific telling the story of one woman’s life in eight separate moments from the perspective of eight different pacific island cultures. ‘
Vai’ is a portmanteau feature film made by 9 female Pacific filmmakers, filmed in 7 different Pacific countries: Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Aotearoa (New Zealand). It is about the journey of empowerment through culture over the lifetime of one woman, Vai, played by a different indigenous actress in each of the Pacific countries. In each of these Pacific nations ‘vai’ means water.
In a modest dwelling in Fiji a 7 year-old girl with boundless energy tries to understand why she has to say goodbye to her home country and extended family as her mother prepares her to leave Fiji.
Vai, now 13, dreams of going to NZ to sing but her day-to-day chore of filling up water bottles from the neighbourhood water tanks makes her feel as though she will never leave Tonga.
While fishing from a small canoe off the coast of the Solomon Islands, 16 year old Vae argues with her mother about the correct way to bait the fishing hook.
Written & directed by: Matasila Freshwater Vae: Betsy Luitolo
NZ Born Samoan:
Having worked hard to get into university, 21 year old Vai is now a top student, and one of only two pacific islanders in her class but with her attendance waning due to pressures at home, she finds it difficult to get support from her tutor and struggles to find her voice in a system that isn’t built for her.
Written & directed by: Amberley Jo Aumua Vai: Agnes Pele
Kuki Airani (Cook Islands):
Amidst apathy, fear and the trappings of colonialism Vai makes a stand for change on her island of Rarotonga, finding her voice as an activist.
In her 40s now, Vai returns to Samoa to perform for an important event but, having been away for many years, Vai struggles with her connection to the performance.
Vai, now 64, tries to convince her granddaughter, Moana, that leaving the island of Niue will give her an equal start in life.
Written & directed by: Dianna Fuemana Vai: Maliaga Erick
An elderly Vai, 80 years old, gathers with her whānau (family) by the river’s edge to perform a naming ceremony for her great granddaughter, Vai.