Matasila Freshwater is a Wellington director with a background in animation, anthropology and design. She cut her creative teeth on a run of 48 Hour filmmaking competitions (including 2017 Best Animation winner The Real Rare Arctic Firefly). Her award-winning short Shmeat – the tale of a mad scientist who devises a new food source – was chosen for the 'New Zealand’s Best' section of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival. Freshwater is an Assistant Director at Wellington's Pūkeko Pictures (working on WotWots spin-off Kiddets); she is also one of eight directors behind Vai, a Pacific Island follow-up to feature Waru.
Excellent production values encompassing a timely global story. Very Tim Burton-esque, but thoroughly entertaining and humorous. Judge Lee Tamahori, explaining the selection of short film Shmeat for the 'New Zealand’s Best' section of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival
Following on from Waru (2017), Vai follows a similar collaborative filmmaking model. Nine Pasifika women filmmakers tell 10-minute-long stories from a woman’s life journey. Set in locations across the Pacific (including Aotearoa), the stories are connected by empowerment and water (vai). Vai premiered at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival. The filmmakers are Sharon and Nicole Whippy, Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumua, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Mīria George, 'Ofa-ki Guttenbeil-Likiliki and Marina Alofagia McCartney.
This animated short is set in "not so distant future" Aotearoa, where a plague has devastated livestock farming. The morbid nursery rhyme, narrated by Geraldine Brophy, tells of a scientist who creates a "different kind of meat from the resources still here". Matasila Freshwater's short was picked for the 'New Zealand’s Best' section of the 2016 NZ International Film Festival, by a team that included director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors). It also screened at Spain's Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, and won Best Animated Short at Sydney festival A Night of Horror.