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Wellington cousins win gold for first film

Wellington cousins win gold for first film

  • 24 Jun 2024
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(Picture caption: Alofa Awards Best film winner, director Vatau Sagaga from Wainuiomata Intermediate, with producer and cousin Alaifatu Fraser Fatialofa, from Wellington College. PHOTO CREDIT: Creative Wezz Photography.)

Filmmaking is a true family business for two young Wellington cousins.

Eleven-year-old Vatau Sagaga and his cousin, Alaifatu Fraser Fatialofa, 13, have proven their prowess as a creative duo, making a short movie together that won Best Film at the 2024 Alofa Awards.

Their winning film, A Different Awakening, was their first project together, and aimed to show how valuable the experience of elders can be to younger generations.

This ‘aiga wisdom is something they drew on while making their movie, which had a cast made up entirely of family members.

Vatau and Fraser developed their film skills through workshops held by Poporazzi Productions, in which students were mentored by experienced Pacific filmmakers.

“We learned a lot in a small amount of time,” says Fraser.

“We watched some other short films for inspiration, and learned how to create a script, how to do cinematography, and how to edit.”

Fraser and Vatau shared director responsibilities on the film, and Fraser was also the director of photography.

They admit that wrangling family during filming was a challenge at times, but “we’re really grateful they helped us out”, says Fraser.

The Alofa Awards took place in April and saw 60 students from 17 Wellington schools take part in the regional Pasifika Youth Short Film Competition.

Sixteen members of the family attended the ceremony, but the win was unexpected for Fraser and Vatau.

“I was shocked at first, and just really happy that my family got to see us win. I’m grateful that Vatau got me into this, and to our family for supporting us,” says Fraser.

Vatau hopes the short film will help people understand the Dawn Raids and their impact on Pacific people in Aotearoa.

“Now this can go out into the world and people can learn something about our culture, and what happened in this dark time,” he says.

Fraser encourages those who watch the film to “to be grateful for your grandparents’ sacrifices, because the reason you’re here today is because of what your family has done”.

This early-career win has inspired the cousins to commit to more projects, and they have now set up a YouTube channel, Panikeke Productions.

“In any of our free time, we’re trying to get some ideas going.

“We’re hoping by the end of the year to have made one or two more films,” Vatau says.