|Ngaa and Pietra, Premiere|
|Ngaa, me and Pietra|
After their first sell-out screening in the 1,000-seat theatre, Ngaa and Pietra were surrounded by people asking questions and wanting autographs. Within hours the word was out and I noticed passers-by taking photos of the two of them. Slightly disconcerting for Ngaa who at one stage put up his hood. They even attracted a mad-fan semi-stalker who had to be asked to leave!
Of course this is not the fame of Meryl Streep, also at the festival, or Taika Waititi, Academy-nominated writer and director of Boy, one of the most gorgeous movies I've seen this year and coming to the US in March.
|Pietra and Ngaa at the Meryl Streep premiere|
|and with Taika Waititi|
To introduce the first screening Pietra gave the traditional Maori call "karanga" and she and Ngaa sang a song written by Maori soldiers stationed in Germany about missing their loved ones. The audiences here laugh more loudly and cry more profusely than any I've seen. Ngaa too wept, overwhelmed by the film, which he had seen for the first time. Afterwards, wiping away tears, he thanked the audience and explained that it was not only he standing before them but his family (whanau), his iwi (tribe) and his ancestors, who were always with him.
One man stood up in the audience and was actually sobbing. He said he was moved that Ngaa stood so proudly with his forebears behind him. That has been taken from us, said the man, because of the atrocities committed in WW2. They could never again be proud of their forefathers. Another man stood up and echoed this.
From the QandA it became evident that that even the children in the audience had done a lot of research before they arrived. It also became clear that some thought it was a film and Ngaa was an actor. "What is your next film?" they asked.
|Question and answer time for Pietra and Ngaa|
Being with doco makers from breakfast till the small hours I noticed how they supported each other, sharing contacts and information. (That apparently is not true of the movie industry) "If one is successful, it makes it easier for the rest of us." says Pietra. Like Pietra, many of them have to use their own money, re-mortgaging their apartments and maxing out credit cards. Even the most famous of doco makers often do their own filming, editing and marketing.
It's been refreshing to walk around Berlin with Ngaa who has never seen snow. There are not many 17-year-olds I would hang out with all day and all night but he was great company and always very appreciative. Brought up by his grandparents - as is the Maori custom - he has an innate respect for his elders. As I am an elder - one of "the olds" - this is awesome. But because he's so polite we often found him cornered by someone and in need of had rescue.
Getting out of cabs he called to the driver : "Good night, thank you and have a good sleep, sir!" Looking down at his black slip-on shoes he says: "I have to polish these with nugget before I go out tonight."
Ngaa had never been interested in clothes but started noticing the classic style: "I really like those coats, whatever they are called" he said pointing to a trench. The morning I left he was heading off to budget store H&M to look at trenches, leather gloves and dark wash jeans. Oh and pick up a Russian hat from the vendor on the corner. So off shopping, just like any other teen...just not for the usual teen hoodies and baggy sweats. But that's how he rolls.