Six Māori Battalion soldiers camped in Italian ruins wait for night to fall. In the silence, the bros-in-arms distract themselves with jokes. A tohu (sign) brings them back to reality, and they gather to say a karakia before returning to the fray. Director Taika Waititi describes the soldiers as young men with "a special bond, strengthened by their character, their culture and each other." Shot in the rubble of the old Wellington Hospital, Tama Tū won international acclaim. Invited to over 40 international festivals, its many awards included honourable mentions at Sundance and Berlin.
Canadian-born cinematographer Thomas Burstyn made his feature debut supplying the film noirish imagery for 80s Kiwi chillers The Lost Tribe, and Mr Wrong. Since then Burstyn has stacked up Canadian award nominations, and an Emmy nom for The 4400. Working with Kiwi partner Barbara Sumner-Burstyn, he has expanded into directing docos alongside other photographic assignments, winning two Qantas awards for the Berlin-selected This Way of Life.