Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School Article
(A pre-eminent theatre and screen training facility of New Zealand)
Conceived, Designed and Directed by Veialu Aila-Unsworth Blue Willow is an animated short film by Toi Whakaari directing graduate Veialu Aila-Unsworth that has had incredible success at various international film festivals, including competition in the Kinderfest section of the prestigious Berlin Film Festival.
The Berlinale, along with those in Cannes and Venice, is among the biggest film festivals in the world. Spread out over 10 days it is attended by around 500,000 people, including more than 16000 trade visitors and 3800 journalists. (read more)
The Lumiere Reader Article
(New Zealand's Online Arts Journal dedicated to criticism and review)
Father told me I was wise beyond my years
But not wise enough to foresee the day he would break my heart
Not because he wanted to
But because he was my father
And that is what fathers do
They disappoint their daughters
THUS BEGINS the narration of Wellington filmmaker Veialu Aila-Unsworth’s short animation, Blue Willow, told by its lead character, Kong-se, the beautiful daughter of a rich Mandarin. In this, her second film, Aila-Unsworth revisits the old legend attached to the famous ceramic pattern designed by Thomas Minton at the end of the 18th century. The tale tells the story of Kong-se who has been promised in marriage to the brutal warrior Ta Jin. Kong-se, though, loves a commoner, her father’s assistant, Cheng. And on the eve of the wedding the two risk everything by escaping and running away. (read more)
White Fungus Article
(Experimental Arts Magazine)
Bordering somewhere between dream, myth and critical reality, the films of Wellington artist Veialu Aila-Unsworth question ideas of culture, identity, time and space. Spurred by a deep personal search, Aila-Unsworth goes beyond the surface of mythology to tell stories that affirm and connect. Located deep within her imagination, her films are as lucid as they are direct.
With a New Zealand mother and Papua New Guinean father, Aila-Unsworth has always been pulled between cultures. “I was born in Papua New Guinea but moved to New Zealand when I was about four,” she says. “I’ve only been back once and that was to go and meet my father, my real father… It’s a part of me that I’m yet to fully explore.”
It was the need to better understand her Papua New Guinean culture that prompted Aila-Unsworth to make her first film ‘Yu Bilong Weh?’ (Pidgin for ‘where are you from?’), a documentary about Wellington’s Papua New Guinean community.
“Because I grew up with my mother – who’s pakeha and from a white family – I never really felt like I could own my Papua New Guineaness. Part of doing this film was me going ‘Ok I’ve got to own my Papua New Guineaness in this country’, just stick it out there that I really didn’t know my identity when it comes to being Papua New Guinean.
“It started off as an idea, from a personal point of view being mixed race and saying ‘well what does this mean?’ and also because I feel that Papua New Guinean is a Pacific culture in New Zealand that’s almost non-existent. You never hear about other Papua New Guineans. You never meet other Papua New Guineans.” (read more)
Berlin Film Festival Archive
(Kinderfilmfest / 14plus 2006)
How to come close to the picture on a porcelain plate that exerted a strange fascination for one as child? Director Veialu Aila-Unsworth’s film is based on a scene depicted on a plate she used to eat off as a child at her grandmother’s house – an image that has remained with her all her life. At the film’s centre is Koong-se, the beautiful daughter of a Chinese mandarin.