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Robert Hull [Film Festival 04.23.12] drama

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Director Louise Leitch’s 12-minute New Zealand-set movie, Whakatiki, is the perfect example of what a short film can achieve. Not only is it a great calling card for her artistic skills but it’s also a beautiful, beguiling and evocative film that avoids the trap too many short films fall into – of being deliberately obscure.

Kiri (Mabelle Dennison) is an overweight Maori woman in a struggling relationship. A day trip with so-called friends to the Whakatiki river stirs up memories of the freedom and innocence she felt as a child when she used to visit the same spot. In a rare moment of strength she wades into the river and re-emerges stronger, and with hope renewed.

The sumptuous visuals (top marks to DoP Martyn Williams) and pitch-perfect score (by Tom McLeod) set the tone for a charming short with a warm heart that’s all about the power that lies within us – no matter how deep down it’s buried.

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