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Leah Vonderheide
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH 44074-1057)
Cinema of Indigenous Maori Filmmaker and Actress Merata Mita (1942-2010)

Research and writing leading to a book about Maori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942-2010) and her film and television work in New Zealand over three decades, from the context of global cinema and feminist film practice.

Maori filmmaker Merata Mita was a leader in the film and television industry of Aotearoa New Zealand (and beyond) for over three decades. This project considers her body of work in its entirety, revisiting her groundbreaking documentaries such as Bastion Point and Patu!, and connecting the filmmaker’s cinema to her later works on self-determination and social justice. Exploring Mita’s myriad on-screen roles alongside her early collaborative projects, this study also considers why, and demonstrates how, some of Mita’s contributions to the global cinema of Indigenous Peoples – often deemed the “fourth cinema” – are overlooked. By acknowledging the role of “women’s work” in the film and media industries worldwide, and engaging the canon of fourth cinema as a mode of exhibition as well as a category of production, this project argues that not only are Mita’s works a reflection of the core values of Maori culture, they also contribute to a growing feminist fourth cinema.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Film History and Criticism; Media Studies

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2020 – 7/31/2020