Kiwi Tongan filmmaker 'Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki has long campaigned for women's rights in Tonga. She founded a Women's Action Group for Change, then in 2009 led the launch of an independent Tongan crisis centre for women and children. Born in Aotearoa to Tongan parents, Guttenbeil-Likiliki has studied communications, journalism and law, and worked as a radio DJ and TV host in Tonga. She was one of eight women to direct 2019 movie Vai, about a woman whose journey covers the South Pacific. "We need to tell the stories from the Pacific and we need to tell them through our eyes," she says.
This has been a dream since the age of 18. I've carried this dream for many years and although my journey has taken me into different experiences, I've always had my heart on this dream. 'Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki on directing a story from Vai, Radio New Zealand, June 2018
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.