Opening at the end of April, The Physics Room is screening a commissioned film by Jeremy Leatinu’u, Te Whakawhitinga. The 11 minute story that it encompasses reaches across place and time, in its detail, geographically encompassing Te Tai Tōkerau in the North to Ōtautahi in Te Waipounamu, and across generations, described by The Physics Room as ‘from early adulthood to old age, from the time of Te Pākanga Tuarua o te Ao, WWII, to the present.’
Leatinu’u and cinematographer Ian Powell travelled from Tāmaki Makaurau where they both live, to Northland and as far south down to Canterbury. Te Whakawhitinga is in te reo and is narrated by two speakers: Matua Hunaara Kaa of Ngāti Porou descent and Poata Alvie McKree of Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa descent. Telling the story of a young man enlisting, leaving his family’s farm in the Far North and taking the train South to begin military training, cinematically, Te Whakawhitinga might seem to initially be associated with a cinematic history of numerous films that have used the notion of travel as a metaphor for discovery and revelation, like Bergman’s Wild Strawberries or Martin Scorsese ’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, but this screening from The Physics Room reveals the details of a more layered and complex narrative: ‘Leatinu’u’s work often brings multiple voices into the telling of a story, opening up the idea of identity as collectively held. While for the artist it is important that the story is held in the images, rather than in extensive subtitling, the combination of landscape, voice and words enables a slowed-down, watching-listening-thinking state in the viewer. It also makes space to recognise the autonomous identity of the places pictured. These places hold their own whakapapa, their own stories, beyond the work’s narrative.’
Director: Jeremy Leatinu'u, narrators: Hunaara Kaa & Poata Alvie McKree, editors: Jeremy Leatinu'u & Ian Powell, cinematography: Ian Powell, composer: Tim Prebble, sound design: John Gray
The Physics Room, The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, Montreal Street
29 April - 03 June 2022
- Leatinu'u, Te Whakawhitinga(production still, image by Ian Powell), black and white 16mm film, 2022.