Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 88 minutes
Stranger Says: On first look, it might seem like this film is too depressing to watch. Its eight vignettes (all directed by Maori women) revolve around the death of a young child named Waru. Each character is either directly connected to the child (family member, teacher) or part of the indigenous community that is plagued by the problems that resulted in his death (poverty, substance abuse). Since each part has a different writer/director, there is a variation in the style and quality of the content. But overall, the women’s stories are affecting and really stay with you.
SIFF Says:Bold and challenging, WARU is a film composed of eight vignettes that center on the funeral of a Māori child. The vignettes are presented in one continuous shot through real-time and focuses on eight Maori women who must go through life beset by poverty, child abuse, guilt, and hopelessness. Each vignette is raw and unflinching in is deliverance: There is the young, careless mother who comes back home drunk at dawn to find that she has locked her baby alone in the house; the mother who has admits that she is too poor to purchase food for her children; the kindergarten teacher who becomes resistant to attending the funeral; and the young, emboldened teenager who finally confronts her abuser in one dramatic, emotional moment. Moreover, the film hints at other subtler themes unique to the Māori community that includes cultural assimilation, societal pressure, and racism. Each vignette was directed by a Māori woman who has poured her heart and voice into this, a film that is sure to leave audiences with raw emotions and difficult questions to ponder.
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