Steambox Films is an informal collective of Maori screen professionals based in Rotorua who are passionate about making narrative films. The core members of Steambox are: Lara Northcroft (Producer, Tūhourangi); Piripi Curtis (Producer, Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao); Tihini Grant (Writer/Director, Ngāti Pikiao); Richard Curtis (Writer/Director/DOP, Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao); Mike Jonathan (Writer/Director/DOP, Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Tainui); Tim Worrall (Writer/Director, Ngai Tūhoe, Te Arawa); and Cliff Curtis (Producer, Te Arawa, Ngāti Hauiti).
The group has been getting together for around six years to workshop different aspects of film-making and to support the development of each other’s projects. The preparation work done over this time bore fruit in 2014/15 with Piripi Curtis and Lara Northcroft producing a collection of short films: Elevation (written and directed by Tihini Grant); Ow What? (written and directed by Mike Jonathan); and Tits on a Bull (written and directed by Tim Worrall). Steambox Films member Richard Curtis also wrote and directed his short film Ahi Kaa, which was produced by Jillian White and executive produced by Cliff Curtis.
All four of these short films were selected to screen at NZ’s premier film festival – the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) which is currently touring the country (Elevation is part of the Nga Whanaunga programme while Ow What? and Tits on a Bull are in the NZ’s Best programme. Ahi Kaa screened in last years festival).
75 films applied for inclusion in this year’s NZ’s Best programme at NZIFF. Successful international Kiwi filmmaker Christine Jeffs chose Ow What? and Tits on a Bull to be two of only six films selected for inclusion. Ow What? also went on to win the $3000 Wallace Friends of the Civic Award for Distinctive Creative Achievement.
Earlier in the year Tits on a Bull was selected to compete in one of Europe’s most prestigious short film festivals – The Tampere Film Festival.
Steambox Films also represented Te Arawa as the ‘rohe in the spotlight’ at the Maoriland Film Festival in March and the films were included in the Wairoa Māori Film Festival where Tits on a Bull won the Best Short Film Award and Best Actress Award for Maria Walker, while Ow What? won the Best Actor Award for Timoti Tiakiwai.
Crucial to the success of the group has been the wider Steambox whanau of talented Māori crew (mainly based in Rotorua) who have given selflessly of their time and energy to make these films happen. Steambox Films is also very grateful to have received support from a number of local organisations and businesses (see Sponsors list below).
There are a number of future film projects in development from the core Steambox members as well as from the wider pool of talent, including more short films, television dramas and feature length film projects.
2014 New Zealand, 15 mins, Writer/Director: Richard Curtis
Left alone with just her spiritual guides, a young girl upholds the prestige of the tribe in order to protect the land for generations to come. Due to her brave deeds she is immortalized forever.
TITS ON A BULL
2015 New Zealand, 16 mins, Writer/Director: Tim Worrall
Set in a Maori women’s rugby team, Tits on a Bull follows Phoenix Tawhana, the young star of the team, as she struggles to choose between her longtime friendship with aging coach Rusty or her new relationship with lesbian team-captain, Melanie.
2015 New Zealand, 12 mins,Writer/Director: Tihini Grant
Dark Comedy. Trapped in an elevator, a white supremacist and a Maori gang member have the chance to confront their issues and come out better men… or not.
2015 New Zealand, 15 mins,Writer/Director: Mike Jonathan
A young boy from Ruatoki recognizes two unusual guardians, as he is conflicted between becoming the man of the house and playing rugby with his mates.
Film festival credits include:
Ahi Kaa – ImagineNATIVE Festival (Canada), Festival De Cannes (France), New Zealand International Film Festival, Wairoa Maori Film Festival, Maoriland Film Festival
Elevation – Nga Whanaunga – New Zealand International Film Festival, Wairoa Maori Film Festival, Maoriland Film Festival
Tits on a Bull – Tampere Film Festival (Europe), Wairoa Maori Film Festival, Maoriland Film Festival, New Zealand International Film Festival, HollyShorts Film Festival (USA), Joshua Tree Film Festival (USA), The Iris Prize Film Festival (UK)
Ow What? – New Zealand International Film Festival, Wairoa Maori Film Festival, Maoriland Film Festival
Sponsors and Organisations that have supported Steambox Films include:
The New Zealand Film Commission
Nga Aho Whakaari
Zippy Central Cafe
Rydges Hotel Rotorua
Maruata – The Mud Hut, Rotorua
Rotorua Civic Arts Trust
Rotorua Holiday Top Ten Holiday Park
Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust
Rotoiti 15 Trust
Paehinahina Mourea Trust
Waione 38B Incorporation