Merata: A film about a courageous woman who Decolonized the screen. By her son Heperi Mita.

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I never saw my mum as a filmmaker, nor was she ever an activist in my eyes. She was always a loving mum. And as the youngest of her six kids, that was the only side of her that I really knew.

There was a lot about her 68 years of life I didn’t know, and it is within the vaults of the film archive that she tells me the story of her past.

My mum, Merata, was the first Māori woman, and first indigenous woman in the world, to write and direct a narrative feature film.

She directed movies in Hollywood, interviewed Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and worked for various respected organizations around the world such as the BBC and National Geographic.

Her independent political documentaries of the ‘70s and ‘80s highlighted the injustices for Māori people in New Zealand, and often divided the country.

But the suffering of my older siblings during these times was all too real. Her drive for social justice would have to be weighed against the dangers her work would expose them to.

By weaving together films discovered within the vaults of the archives with the deep personal accounts of my older brothers and sister, a deeply intimate portrait emerges and my mother’s story reveals itself to me, and to the rest of the world, for the first time.

I was mesmerized by this film and the tenacious way it was pieced together.  It instantly reminds you and opens you up to the fact that racism and sexism, for that matter, thrived in many different countries and cultures as well as ours and still does.  This film binds us together in the simple fact that people of color share so many battles and so many hurdles over so many generations.  The sacrifices made and the scars left behind are both revealing and heartfelt.  This is a must watch film.  Check it out on Netflix! #NEVAHBLACKDOWN


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