Ainsley Gardiner, Briar Grace-Smith win Merata Mita Fellowship

Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith.

Māori filmmakers Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith have won the 2019 Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship, selected after a global call for applicants.

Each will receive cash grants and a year-long program of support from the Sundance Institute including mentorships and attending the Sundance Film Festival.

Shortly after the fellowships were announced, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay’s distribution company Array acquired Us rights to Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen, a documentary feature directed by Mita’s youngest son Heperi Mita, which had its international premiere at Sundance and will next screen in the NATIVe special presentation section of the Berlinale.

Now in its fourth year, the Merata Mita Fellowship is named in honour of pioneering Māori filmmaker Merata Mita, who died suddenly in 2010. The first and only Māori woman to write and direct a feature film, 1988’s Mauri, she was adviser and
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