Film edition 2021


Category: Generator +18

Mata, Missy and Makareta. Three cousins. Three lives. Separate, yet bound together forever. Orphaned Mata believes she has no whānau (family) and lives out her lonely childhood in fear and bewilderment. Back home on the land, educated Makareta flees an arranged marriage to study law and begin the search for her missing cousin. She leaves behind cheeky yet dutiful Missy who takes on her role of kaitiaki (guardian) of the land. As years pass, the loss of the family land seems imminent and their promise to bring their stolen cousin home seems more unlikely than ever, until a chance encounter changes everything.

Original Title Cousins
Category Official Competition
Section Generator +18
Tipology Feature Film
Duration 98'
Production Year 2021
Nationality New Zealand
Directed by Briar Grace-Smith, Ainsley Gardiner
Screenplay Briar Grace-Smith
Director of photography Raymond Edwards
Editor Alex Boyd
Production Design Kate Logan
Music Warren Maxwell
Main cast Tanea Heke
Rachel House
Briar Grace-Smith
Ana Scotney
Hariata Moriarty
Tioreore Melbourne
Te Raukura Gray
Keyahne Patrick Williams
Mihi Te Rauhi Daniels
Cohen Holloway
Cian Elyse-White
Chelsie Preston-Crayford
Miriama Smith
Produced by Georgina Conder, Ainsley Gardiner, Libby Hakaraia
Production Miss Conception Films (New Zealand)

Cousins DIRECTORS Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace Smith at the Parrot House SeatounAinsley Gardiner

Has produced more than a dozen short and feature films, documentaries and television drama series. Notably Gardiner produced the short films TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT and TAMA TU written and directed by Oscar-winner, Taika Waititi. She went on to collaborate with Waititi on his feature films, EAGLE VS SHARK in 2005 and his (original) No. 1 Box Office hit, BOY, in 2009. Gardiner has produced other features including THE PĀ BOYS with writer/director Himiona Grace, as well as drama for television. Her first short film, MOKOPUNA, had a successful festival life, winning Gold at the Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival. Gardiner also works as an external script assessor and mentors a number of emerging Māori writers, directors and producers. In 2015 Gardiner founded Miss Conception Films with Georgina Conder.
Their production company is focused on female-lead character driven projects with female key creatives, including the feature film THE BREAKER UPPERERS, the documentary SHE SHEARS and the thriller REUNION. In 2017, Gardiner joined a team of women directors and writers to create the critically acclaimed feature film WARU. Gardiner is also a producer on the upcoming Canadian-New Zealand co-production NIGHT RAIDERS. In 2018, she was named a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to her work in film and television, and in 2019 she received the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship with Briar Grace-Smith (an annual fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita).

Briar Grace Smith

Is an award-winning director and screenwriter for the page, stage and screen. Her screenwriting credits for film include FRESH MEAT and THE STRENGTH OF WATER, which earned her Best Feature Film Script at the NZ Scriptwriters Awards. Her plays have toured both nationally and internationally and won multiple awards, with her first play Ngā PouWāhine earning her the Bruce Mason Playwriting award, and Purapurawhetu winning Best New Zealand Play at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Grace-Smith’s extensive television writing credits include THE BIG CHAIR, TAUMATA, MATAKU, BEING EVE, PARADISE CAFE, KAITANGATA TWITCH, BILLY, WHEN WE GO TO WAR and FISHSKIN SUIT (Best Drama Award at the NZ Television Awards). She has director credits on two feature films, the critically acclaimed WARU and KRYSTAL. In 2000, Grace-Smith received the Arts Foundation Laureate award, in 2018 was recognized for her services to theatre, film and television, being appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2019, Grace-Smith won the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship with fellow filmmaker Ainsley Gardiner.

Directors’ statement
“To us, COUSINS is centred around three cousins, under the single central theme of separation and reconnection. The story is bound to a grand belief that shared whakapapa (genealogical links) can never truly be cut, despite distance, time and heartbreak.
Each of our three cousins are individual characters whose pathways reflect the journeys created and shaped by the times they lived within, Aotearoa (New Zealand) through the 1940’s to now. We wanted to honour each of them and craft three deeply considered and distinct pathways which weave together to create a cinematic story with a sensitivity that is layered, complex and unexpected.
Our approach to directing COUSINS was based both in a narrative and kaupapa (philosophy) Māori. In deciding to co-direct we realized that our own very different experiences of being Māori were an asset to the film and we wanted our process to reflect that. From a kaupapa Māori perspective we wanted to tell the story of the character with whom we whakapapa to. To this point, we drew on our personal experiences, characteristics and understandings to infuse each cousin with the spirit of the author as well as our own personal journeys to bring Missy, Mata and Makareta to life on screen.”

Miss Conception Films (New Zealand) 

festival contact
NZ Film – New Zealand Film Commission (New Zealand)