WE ARE STILL HEREDirected by Beck Cole, Chantelle Burgoyne, Danielle MacLean, Dena Curtis, Mario Gaoa, Miki Magasiva, Renae Maihi, Richard Curtis, Samuel Nuggin-Paynter, Tim Worrall, Tiraroa Reweti, Tracey Rigney
Opening Film, 2022 Sydney Film Festival
Official Selection, 2022 Toronto International Film Festival
When ten filmmakers were asked to respond to the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s violent arrival, they defied the omnibus structure. Instead, the lushly realized WE ARE STILL HERE braided eight different stories into each other, continuing the bold multi-author experiments of Vai (SDAFF ‘19) and Waru (SDAFF Spring Showcase ‘18). Spanning 1000 years of historical and speculative times across Aotearoa, Australia, and Pasifika, each story resolves then reappears, rubbing edges and finding surprising resonances. The sum effect is a co-created galaxy of shimmering, heart pumping, indigeous life connected to each past and every future.
Multiple historical flashpoints come to life in WE ARE STILL HERE: A Maori chief and his daughter debate whether to fight the British in the famous 1864 Battle of Ōrākau. A Samoan conscript finds unlikely communion in the 1915 Gallipoli war. A grieving Aboriginal graffiti artist takes matters into her own hands on Invasion Day. A young man finds surprising mentorship during the infamous 1982 Springbok protests that ripped apart New Zealand for months. The surreal and speculative emerge when a frontier colonist is led toward an eerie reckoning, a young girl faces a difficult offer in a near-future dystopia, and spectral fisherwomen weave, pull, and harvest from the skies. And lastly, the everyday indignities of racial policing are turned on their head in a cat and mouse dance between a liquor store cop and a young man looking to score.
WE ARE STILL HERE splits open these oppressive histories and invites us to see indigenous acts of kinship as enchanted moments. Together they join a sacred cosmology that seeds futures both in resistance to and despite colonialism—through multiple epochs, across war trenches and star systems, across policing and apocalypse, and sometimes, from just across the street.