Waru review

A new movie combining the work of eight female, Māori directors tackling child abuse in New Zealand is about to be released.

Waru premiered at the International Film Festival last month and quickly caught the attention of critics and filmgoers.

I believe it's our responsibility to embrace stories designed to jolt us awake, crafted to dig deep under our skin, existing to make us think and to think and feel differently. Waru's mission is exactly that.

This film is eight short stories woven together to tell one - streams of consciousness pumping blood to the heart of the narrative.

Waru is about Māori women facing up to the violence and the silence within their whānau and their community, but this film speaks to everyone - all New Zealanders of course, but far beyond our shores too.

Each chapter has a different view, each inhabited by different female protagonists, but each is subtly interlinked either directly or as a splinter off one shocking event - the death of a child at the hands of his caregiver.

As you might expect from a feature piece comprised of essentially eight short films, there are strengths and weaknesses in the telling. However, the key performances deliver, and with several stand-outs.

Young newcomer Acacia Hapi packs an enormously powerful punch. Seasoned performers Miriama McDowell and Tanea Heke do the same in their respective stories.

Yes, Waru is confronting, thick with grief, rage, a guilty impotence and a tormented desperation. And of course we can choose to spend our hard-earned dollars on blockbuster escapism, but we also have these opportunities to invest our precious time in stories that remind us of the power cinema has to effect real change.

Waru is one such opportunity.

Four stars.