Born in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, Shuchi Kothari studied writing at Texas University, before moving to NZ in 1997. She has gone on to write and develop short films, Asian-flavoured TV comedy A Thousand Apologies, and two features: 2008 food and family drama Apron Strings, and the Indian-shot Firaaq, the directorial debut of Fire star Nandita Das. Kothari is director of Screen Production at Auckland University.
A lot of Indians here, who put in money, were not filmmakers. A lot of them feel that there are stories, or their own emotional narratives, that are just not around in the public arena. Shuchi Kothari on funding short film Fleeting Beauty, in the Sunday Star-Times, 11 July 2004
In this 2015 short film, work tensions spill over at the offices of a baby and parenting magazine. But the real drama is far closer to home. Debbie (Denise Snoad) is sick of picking up the slack for Aroha (Anoushka Berkley), who seems to have her mind elsewhere. When Aroha mucks up a shipment, Debbie takes it to the boss. Writer/director Cathy MacDonald pits two seemingly disparate women against each other, only for the two to discover they're grappling with different sides of the same situation. Willa O'Neill (Scarfies) cameos as the boss.
This CGI animated short stars the Easter Bunny and Santa, but its take on festive spirit is far from cuddly. 'Tis the season to be addled in writer Wayne Ching’s twisted tale of an embittered bunny (voiced by English comedian Harry Enfield) whose remorse for Santa’s presents is “fuelled by vodka and anti-depressants.” A tattooed Santa channels Withnail and I’s Uncle Monty, and the rhyming couplets are more AO Grinch than child friendly. Directed by Alan Dickson and made by Kiwi animation house Yukfoo, the black comedy screened at Tribeca and SXSW film festivals.
In Samoan-born director Sima Urale's first feature, two mothers from very different Aotearoa cultures find the courage to confront the secrets of the past, in order to set their sons free. Hard-working Lorna runs an old-fashioned cake shop and lives with her unemployed son. For Anita, star of an Indian cooking show, things come to a head when her son decides to meet her estranged sister Tara, who runs a no-frills curry house. Apron Strings debuted in the Discovery Section of the 2008 Toronto Film Festival. It won four Qantas awards, including for actors Jennifer Ludlam and Scott Wills.
Ingeniously unfolding three tales in unison, Take 3 follows a trio of young asian-Kiwi actors on one horrifying day of auditions. Director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) mines comedy from the competitive, cookie-cutter world of casting, while questioning the way minority actors are asked to perpetuate old-fashioned stereotypes. The stars are My Wedding lead Michelle Ang, Katlyn Wong (comedy A Thousand Apologies), and Li Ming Hu (Shortland Street doctor Li Mei Chen). Take 3 won special mention in the Generation 14plus section at Berlin film fest.
This 2002 documentary explores contemporary Aotearoa from the perspective of Kiwis from a range of different (non-Māori, non-Pākehā) ethnic backgrounds. These citizens speak frankly about their experience of assimilation and stereotyping in a supposedly multicultural society, where ethnic food is beloved — but not ethnic difference — and where jokes and racism blur. Directed by Libby Hakaraia, the documentary screened on TV3 as part of doco slot Inside New Zealand. It was a follow up to 2000's The Truth about Māori, which looked at identity from a Māori perspective.