Tag Archives: Culture

DocEdge 17 | Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves

Netherlands / Germany | Chinese / English Sub | 2017 | 80 min | Laetitia Schoofs

‘Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves’ subject matter is highly relevant and current, touching on sensitive issues not often discussed in Chinese culture and commonly considered taboo. In-depth sexual education for women is scarce and not as widely available in this setting, and we gain some insight into what is becoming more available in terms of education in modern Chinese culture, with the happiness and satisfaction of these women in mind.

Much is still suppressed in regards to the control the Government exercises, however this is being challenged  – we are introduced to some captivating women; intelligent, independant and attractive. Women whom are sometimes condisered ‘freaks’, as they are unmarried, single, without children and past their mid-twenties. They are subject to the cultural and societal pressures placed upon them, however the discovery and acceptance of the fact that they do not need to reply on a male partner for their sexual satisfaction is empowering to some.

Director Laetitia Schoofs has a sensitivity and gentle beauty to the treatment of her subject, which is felt throughout the viewing of “Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves’. At times I was reminded of last years DocEdge screening for ‘Inside the Chinese Closet’, and in a way these films are both linked – hopefully creating some awareness and understanding of the juxtaposition of a culture held back by tradition, but propelling towards modernerty at a rate which highlights these shortcomings so blatantly.

Highly recommended.

The 12th DocEdge Festival takes place Auckland 24 May – 5 June – www.docedge.nz






DocEdge 16 | Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

From the opening scene, this documentary captivates. Viewers are confronted with a mash-up of black and white images and video clips from key moments in the African American Civil Rights Movement of the Twentieth Century – the lynching of fourteen year old Emmett Till, who was murdered for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi, the Greensboro sit-in of 1960, Rosa Parks riding a bus, President Obama and more. It is instantly powerful, and just as captivating for those who know little or nothing about the movement or Angelou.

The first documentary about Angelou, And Still I Rise covers the iconic African American’s life chronologically. Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack seamlessly blend together filmed footage, rare photos and commentaries from those who had known Angelou to create a coherent and interesting film. What is best about this documentary is that Angelou herself is given the primary voice – having only passed away in 2014, Angelou was able to tell her life story first, so we get to hear it in her own words. In a way, this is Angelou’s departing gift to us all – for as those that knew her declare, she was not just a poet, an author, a singer or an actress, but a storyteller.

Angelou’s story beings as a young child in Los Angeles. When her parents separated, Angelou and her brother were put on a train and sent to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. “It was terrible rejection,” Angelou remembers, and goes on to describe life in the South as a young African American girl. Angelou’s childhood was dominated by abuse, both racial and sexual. The Ku Klux Klan made regular visits to the village, and at just seven years old she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. Her attacker’s subsequent murder caused Angelou to become mute for five years, certain that her speaking out was the reason for his death. At sixteen, she became pregnant, and after giving birth to a son, Guy, Angelou began to dance and sing in bars to earn money.

Poetry was next on the cards, and Angelou’s literary journey saw her move to Harlem, the African American cultural hub of New York. During the fifties and sixties Angelou met many famous and influential African Americans, including poet Langston Hughes, author James Baldwin, and civil rights activists Martin Luther King Junior and Malcolm X. Angelou describes her respect for both King and X, praising their different approaches to black equality. Angelou worked with the New York branch of King’s organisation the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and later became an advocate for X’s black nationalist rhetoric after meeting him in Ghana. “I loved him so much,” she recalls, recounting her devastation at his assassination in 1965 and King’s just three years later.

The year after King’s assassination, Angelou’s first autobiography was published. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings covers the early years of Angelou’s life and went on to become hugely successful. She was the first female African American to write about her experiences in such a way, opening the door on ‘hidden’ issues like sexual abuse which many young black girls had experienced.

And Still I Rise covers the next decades of Angelou’s life, during which time she continued writing, acting and speaking, and also married and later divorced British author Paul de Feu. In 1993, Bill Clinton asked Angelou to write a poem for his presidential inauguration. Angelou’s poem, On the Pulse of the Morning, was “an eternal gift to America,” Clinton remarks. “And it’ll read well a hundred years from now.”

When Angelou died in 2014, she left a mark on everyone who had ever met her. It was not just the films she had starred in or directed, the poems and books she had written or the songs she had sung, but her demeanour, her personality and the vision she had shared. There was no one like her, this documentary asserts – and there won’t be another. As actress and friend of Angelou, Alfre Woodard says, “nobody is guna talk like she talked, and nobody is guna walk like she walked.” Do yourself a favour and watch this documentary so you can understand why.


The 11th DocEdge Festival takes place in Wellington 4-15 May and Auckland 18-29 May – www.docedge.nz


DocEdge 16 | Inside the Chinese Closet

China | Mandarin / English | 2015 | 72 min | Feature film | Sophia Luvarà

Inside the Chinese Closet is a look into the life and struggle of what it means to be Chinese and Gay in a modern society, bound by the social and cultural expectations of family. It focuses on two contrasting situations; Andy lives in urban Shanghai, and is searching for a lesbian psuedo-wife of convenience to bear his child and appease his family. Socially active, with a calm self-confidence, he is challenged by these social constructs; although his father may to accept his lifestyle to a degree – it is still referred to as ‘his issue’, and something to solve. His journey explores his options, including IVF, surrogates & adoption.

Cherry is a different personality entirely. From countryside China; she is emotionally sombre, and possibly procrastinating when it comes to the task of actually procuring a child. Many complications prolong the process, to the very apparent frustration of her parents. Her Father especially seems to rule with an iron fist, while her endearing Mother tries to understand her daughters homosexuality (and fails).

What I came to realise early on is that there is a real sense of unity in China’s Gay community, as their situation is unique, and they are stuck in this in-between place; a forward moving, industrious China vs. cultural tradition. Andy and Cherry are very real people; Sophia Luvarà illustrates this with beauty and sensitivity.

I would highly recommend adding ‘Inside the Chinese Closet’ to your view-list, premiering in New Zealand this May at the DocEdge Film Festival. Get your tickets HERE.

The 11th DocEdge Festival takes place in Wellington 4-15 May and Auckland 18-29 May. www.docedge.nz

NZFW2015 | Miromoda

Three days of fun and intensity flew by too quickly and here I sit in front of my keyboard missing and reminiscing about it. I am talking about, New Zealand Fashion Week. There were a lot of great shows with reputable brands but only a select few impressed me. I am the type of person who like to save the best for last and Miromoda is one of the best. Miromoda strives to support, expose and launch emerging indigenous designers or culturally charged creatives. It combines some of the strongest known, unknown and lesser known designers in one spectacular show worthy of high praise.

With 13 designers and labels showing in Miromoda this year we got to see everything from casual street-wear to extravagant and artistic pieces.


STEVE HALL – Abandon Man

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Abandon Man is a collection that draws heavily on Japanese culture. The look of strong, masculine and military inspired warriors are seamlessly counterbalanced by soft cuts and shape.


KYLIE MANGAN – Black Meets White

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Kylie creates effortless fashion with timeless designs and staple pieces she says every woman needs in their wardrobe, her designs are minimal, street and chic.


AJ BRADLEY – The Hungry Years

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“The Hungry Years is an exploration into the culture and envrionment of an epochal time for American music, literature and photography”.


CAMPBELL LUKE (Bobby Luke) – Bespoke Memories of a Pā kid

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Campbell Luke is a brand driven by kaupapa Māori and modern aesthetics. Bespoke Memories of Pā kid is based on nostalgic work wear and the of matriarchal societies within family and culture.


AHO (Kristy Bedi) – Aho Manawa


Kristy Bedi’s work draws on concepts of culture, identity, hybridity and whakapapa. Aho Manawa translate to ‘the heart line’ which draws on the complex and elegant pattern of the kōwhaiwhai.


SYRE (Aaliyah Jobe) – CAPT

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SYRE creates defiant street wear for the rebellious and disobedient inspired by American pop culture and sportswear. CAPT is a collection that address the debate on the new flag using satire to bring light the issues of sovereignty and colonisation.


HIAKO (Tasmyn Roach) – Hiako

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Hiako embraces traditional and contemporary Māori prints reflecting the designer’s Māori and Pakeha cultural heritage. Hiako is a sportswear collection made out of sports enhanced materials aimed at catering to all cultures.


HORI & MIMI (Hohepa Thompson & Mia Brennan) – The Hangi Collection

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The Hangi Collection represents whanau, food and bringing people together. The fabrics used in this collection were dyed by a process of being buried in a hangi along with cooking ingredients and allowed to simmer for days.



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Adjust 2.0 is Jordaine’s first collection and it is about finding her own path, aesthetic and her own feet. The collection aims for simplicity and comfort creating a look good and feel good wear without elaborate embellishments.


DARLENE GORE – Darlene Gore A/W 2016

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The collection is influenced by climate and settings of the South Island. Darlene Gore creates finely tailored pieces that transcends fashion fads to become lasting pieces.



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Simple, sophisticated and proudly New Zealand owned. Mitchell Vincent produces internationally influenced, ready to wear garments that reflects the relaxed culture and lifestyle of New Zealand.



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Shona Tawhiao productes stunning flax woven pieces by combing traditional Māori weaving skills and her eye for contemporary design creating pieces that are literally a work of (wearable) art. Her designs combine modern materials with Harakeke (native flax).



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Aiming to make Avant Garde the norm, Dmonic Intent design what they want rather than aiming to please the masses. Their label’s philosophy focuses on development, experimentation and innovation; individualism is their goal and they focus on being design and made in NZ.


More images of Miromoda will be uploaded to our Facebook page so make sure you head on over there and follow us see them all.


this weekend | The Very Vintage Day Out

To all you sexy Aucklanders out there. If you love everything and anything vintage then uncap those markers, whip out your calenders and cancel all your existing plans for this weekend and go check out The Very Vintage Day Out.  There are over fifty unique stalls selling quality vintage goods from around New Zealand and a jam packed schedule full of beauty workshops, high tea and dancing.

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Above: Some of NZ’s finest, well loved and cared for vintage cars at on exhibition.

For all the ‘blokes’ out there who think this event is just for the girls.. you are wrong. There will be vintage cars and replica garments on display, movie screenings and if your into these things fashion shows, pin up pageants and family friendly burlesque shows. There is so much to do you will be crazy to give this a miss this weekend.

14MissTPinups_MissVictoryViolet_8920 - small Above: Miss Pinup New Zealand 2014, Miss Victory Violet.

This year is VVDO’s fourth annual event and it is bigger than ever. This event designed to celebrate vintage culture has gained great interest that in the last three years they have been attracting more and more visitors from across NZ. So much more that VVDO has extended this event to two days instead of one with VVDO After Dark (Saturday) and the outdoor poolside Tiki Party at The Backyard (Sunday)


VVDO image 2Monique McLennan and soldiers - photo by Zvonko Djuric

Right : Monique McLennan with soldiers photographed by Zvonko Djuric.

The Very Vintage Day Out
April 11th 2015
10am – 6pm
Alexandra Park

VVDO After Dark – The Wildcat Shakeout presented by Kittyhawk Entertainment
April 11th 2015
7.30pm – 11pm
Alexandra Park

The Very Vintage Day Out Weekend Tiki Party
April 12th 2015
2pm – 7pm
The Backyard

Single day passes, VIP passes and weekend passes are available, for tickets prices and where to buy them click this link here.  And for a breakdown of activities like workshops and performances click this link here to visit VVDO’s home page, workshop and activity guide.  If you can not attend this weekend then show your support and stay up to date by joining the conversation:
Twitter – @veryvintageday
Instagram – @veryvintageday
YouTube – TheVeryVintageDayOut

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Above : Miss Victory Violet photographed by Emma Joyce.

Before we end this post we must congratulate Miss Pinup NZ 2014, Miss Victory Violet (featured above) on being the first New Zealander to win the Miss Viva Las Vagas pageant. This would be the first international crown won by a New Zealander, YOU GO GIRL!


NZFW2012: Designer PROFILE – Shona Tawhiao

Local fashion designer Shona Tawhiao is one of the many fashion designers featuring at New Zealand Fashion Week’s Miromoda fashion show this coming Friday. The self-employed Maori Fibre Artist and Designer has put together a plethora of amazing garments in the past and present which represents the Maori culture in an elegant nature through the use of flax fibres and weavings.

Shona Tawhiao uses the term “haute couture” to describe the inspiration behind all of her garments. Her attempt to modernise haute couture in a cultural sense speaks volumes of her future-focused and visionary artistic endeavours and also natural ability to create a subculture from an indigenous culture. Shona Tawhiao refers to the Japanese culture in saying that Maori [the culture] don’t yet have that. [Subcultural element] Through her garments, Shona Tawhiao attempts to construct visionary designs that go beyond the shores and borders of New Zealand and the fashion industry. Shona’s garments are sleek in body fit, precise in execution, elegant in colour and overall pleasing to the eye on all stylistic accounts.

Shona Tawhiao also adds a teaspoon of culture to New Zealand Fashion Week. This cultural component is one which she believes New Zealand has “struggled to muster.” With the brown demographic [that of Maori and Pasifika] growing in New Zealand, we are seeing a wealth of Maori and Pacific Island designers coming through the fashion industry ranks, but if of anything, I’d like to see the presence grow to its full potential within coming years. The artistic and stylistic talent that lies within our brown designers, particularly our young generations, needs to be encouraged with opportunities presented to them to ensure they get the exposure needed to nourish and promote their skills and abilities.

Lindah Lepou, who is of Samoan decent, is one Pacific Island designer in particular who has become well known within fashion circles and the New Zealand public for her ‘Cocomono’ garment and her other pacific couture garments. Most recently, Kapi Fonua a Tongan student studying fashion here in New Zealand, won TVNZ’s Paper Dresses competition. His dress optimised a ‘pohutukawa tree’ encompassing early childhood memories based around a pohutukawa tree – that of which stood out as a significant symbol from his childhood. His well-executed and paper-tissue-inspired dress featured on the runway on Tuesday night, with his debut at New Zealand Fashion Week almost certainly opening up a door or two for him within the fashion industry.

Shona Tawhiao first took part in New Zealand Fashion Week after being presented with several opportunities to partake in fashion shows, being a testament to the visionary talent, amazing skill and artistic ability that she possesses. In 2007, Shona won the Premier Award at the ‘Manuka Villa Maria Cult Couture’ show. This award presented Shona with an opportunity to enter the ‘World of Wearable Arts’ after being encouraged by the organisers to take part. And 2012, presents a challenge and learning experience in itself as Shona Tawhiao’s garments graces the runway once again in the Miromoda Showcase, this Friday. Secure your seat now!



1.30pm – Westpac Shed. Also featuring the following designers:

Monique Lynch / Poto Morgan
Dmonic Intent / Marsh Ranginui
Shona Tawhiao / Olivia Edington
Koia Gray / Hohepa Thompson
Surface Too Deep / Pia Boutique
Christopher Woods-Huia


[Follow K-Ran M on Twitter >> @TheCLASSYKiddo]

Pasifika Festival – Celebrating 20 Years

To celebrate 20 years of Pasifika, Dawn Raid and Pasifika Festival  are set to release Pasifika Festival – 20th Anniversary, a collection of twenty songs from The Pacific’s most prolific Polynesian & Maori artists.  The album’s release coincides with the 20th anniversary of the festival that will take place on Saturday 10th March at Auckland’s Western Springs Park and includes tracks from the likes of Smashproof, Herbs, The Yandall Sisters, David Dallas and more.

Founders of Dawn Raid Entertainment, Andy Murnane and Brotha D compiled the album’s track list. “In celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Pasifika Festival, we wanted to showcase artists that have helped the festival reach this accomplishment, and highlight how Pasifika Festival has become an important platform for these artists while on their musical journey” says Brotha D.

Pasifika Festival – 20th Anniversary Compilation  – Out March 5th 2012 

For more information about Pasifika Festival, click here.