‘Lea Tupu’anga/Mother Tongue’: Success from Sundance to Māoriland

Congratulations Vea Mafile’o (DEGANZ) for winning the People’s Choice Award for Best Short Film (Drama) at the Māoriland Film Festival with Lea Tupu’anga/Mother Tongue.

The 17-minute short follows Katherine, a speech-language therapist assigned to an elderly Tongan man with bilingual aphasia. Through their struggle to communicate, the film delves into themes of shame, belonging, and the power of love as a universal language.

Māoriland is the film’s second festival under its belt after premiering at Sundance in January 2024, having caught the attention of international audiences. In an interview with RNZ, Vea and writer Luciane Buchanan spoke about how the story is widely accessible as it explores “who we are without language”. They both shared how their experiences of not being able to speak Tongan were a driving force behind telling the story.

We look forward to seeing where Lea Tupu’anga/Mother Tongue goes next!

Last updated on 27 March 2024