Fascinated by different cultures and how "human emotion transcends culture", Zia Mandviwalla began making films after studying english and history at university. Indian-born but raised in Dubai, she moved to New Zealand as a teen. Now her short films travel the world’s festivals. Mandviwalla’s tales of cross-cultural collision include immigrant stories Amadi and Eating Sausage. Her short Night Shift was nominated for best short at major festivals Cannes and Sundance. She has also directed many commercials.
The stories are born out of and a response to my own life experiences. Zia Mandviwalla, in a February 2010 Big Idea interview
Amadi is a Rwandan refugee struggling with his new life in New Zealand. Alone, patronised in his menial job (he’s called “Africa” by a workmate), and anxious about rescuing his family from his war-torn ‘home’; he forms an unlikely connection with the prickly lady living next door. Directed by 2009 Spada New Filmmaker of the Year, Zia Mandviwalla, Amadi joined Eating Sausage, Clean Linen, and Cannes-selected Night Shift to form a quartet of Mandviwalla-made shorts exploring cross-cultural collision. It screened at Melbourne and Hawaii international film festivals.
A Thousand Apologies takes joy in lampooning everyday racism. The show was the brainchild of the Thousand Apologies Collective, a group of Auckland based Asian/Kiwi filmmakers which included directors Roseanne Liang, Shuchi Kothari and Serina Pearson. The six episodes have a classic sketch show format — with sight gags and song parodies, in-between longer character based sketches. Its broader aim is to show Asian/Kiwis as three dimensional-people, rather than the stereotyped roles so often assigned to them on television.
A Thousand Apologies is a fast-paced series of comic sketches by and about Asian New Zealanders. In this first episode, common cliches and racial tropes ( bad Asian driver, nerdy Chinese student) are sharply mocked. The writers sprinkle in some quick sight gags between longer sketches. Tarun Mohanbhai and Rajeev Varma team up as posessive Hindu parents trying to orchestrate the perfect arranged marriage; and Scribe's 2003 hip hop hit 'Not Many' is transformed into a celebration of Asian 'nerd styles', including shout-outs to "North Takapuna" and "West Henderson".
This short film follows a freshly-arrived Korean immigrant, trapped in suburban Auckland while her husband Kim works. Su Jung befriends her neighbours, who take her to their weekly swimming lessons, where she finds release in the water. But when swimming affects the cooking of dinner, Kim is piqued. For 2009 Spada New Filmmaker of the Year Zia Mandviwalla, Eating Sausage was the first in a quartet of shorts exploring cross-cultural collisions (Clean Linen, Amadi and Cannes-selected Night Shift). It was selected for the London and Pusan Film Festivals.
Director Florian Habicht's follow-up to his offbeat fairytale Woodenhead is a documentary tribute to a community of characters, drawn together by a desire to jump in a car for the local demolition derby. Behind the bangs, prangs, and blow-ups, the heart and soul of a small Far North town — Kaikohe — is laid bare in this full-length film, thanks to a cast of fun-loving, salt of the earth locals. Kaikohe Demolition won rave reviews, and The Listener named it one of the ten best films of 2004. Filmmaker Costa Botes writes about the film's characters and qualities here.