Fascinated by other cultures since childhood, ethnomusicologist Paul Wolffram began making films during two years living in Papua New Guinea, studying music for his PhD. One of the films that emerged was feature documentary Stori Tumbuna: Ancestors' Tales, which was invited to 30+ festivals. Voices of the Land: Ngā Reo o te Whenua, inspired by Māori music expert Richard Nunns, premiered at the 2014 Wellington Film Festival.
I'm trying to make each documentary a radical departure from the last. Paul Wolffram, in a 19 July 2014 Lumiere interview with Brannavan Gnanalingam
In 2001 New Zealander Paul Wolffram was in Papua New Guinea studying music for his PhD, when he began making films about the Lak people he was staying with. Fifteen years later he headed back for another film, utilising his connection with the Lak to undergo a gruelling initiation into the world of Buai magic. The experience involved dehydration, fasting and isolation over the course of five days, with the intent of enhancing creative powers. What Lies that Way is set to get its world premiere at the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival.
Paul Wolffram's film melds sounds from noted musicians Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo, recorded in spectacular locations around New Zealand, to demonstrate that the sounds of the natural world are a form of music too. Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro - traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. Debuting at the 2014 Wellington Film Festival, Voices of the Land pays tribute to Nunn's role in their revival, while Wolffram's powerhouse creative team use image and sound to show ways "landscape and the voices of the land can be heard".