Taika Waititi says Hollywood's 'out of ideas', champions indigenous filmmaking

Taika Waititi has called it: Hollywood is officially out of ideas.

Speaking at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday (local time), the Kiwi director, actor and screenwriter told the audience that the film industry's struggles could mean more opportunities for non-American creators, particularly those from ethnic minorities.

"We're in a really cool place right now - Hollywood is running out of ideas," he said.

"They are scrambling for ideas and stories, and where do they turn? Indigenous people, ethnic people - they turn to Korea, Japan, they turn to anywhere outside of America for films that they can remake for things that are outside of their comfort zone, because that's where the interesting stuff is."

Waititi encouraged filmmakers to embrace their unique heritage and produce work that differs to the typical films to come out of Hollywood. However he cautioned against "conforming" to traditional filmmaking by telling the same story with actors from different cultures.

"If we just ride it, and just be true to our own vision and our own stories and our own voices and not conform to that, and not go like, 'Oh it's like What Happens in Vegas but with brown people,' maybe there's a good film in there.

"But if we stick to our own guns, I think we're in a good place. Speak your truth."

He shared his own experiences with racism in the industry, including notes he'd received from other film experts asking him to insert more cultural stereotypes into his work.

He said one person had suggested he put "more nose flutes" in his work, which often focuses on Māori communities.

"'Maybe that character is a spirit guide. Maybe that character goes to his grandmother for some advice'."

Waititi says the stories of marginalised communities should be told by directors with a connection to those communities to avoid clumsy or offensive onscreen representation.

"Indigenous people should be telling their own stories and making themselves part of the culture and really learning about it, instead of someone else from another culture coming in and telling our stories and all they care about is box office or just making a film.

"It's got to be about actually bringing a message. I think it's vital that we keep telling our own stories."