Jade shares her experiences of diversity, innovation and sustainability in Wellington’s film industry as one of six local filmmakers interviewed for ‘Diverse Voices: Making Screen Work Different’.

Pachali Brewster directs and produces the Wellington UNESCO City of Film project, with help from facilitators and Victoria University of Wellington’s Missy Molloy and Raqi Syed.

Material for the documentary has come from a hui featuring six local storytelling talents, including Jade, around the central question: “How can we make screen work different?”

Jade spent much of her 20s struggling with an identity crisis.

“When I was growing up being Samoan wasn’t really something to be proud of. What I saw really scared me as a kid around racism… so I hid that part of myself for a long time.”

Originally from Porirua’s Cannons Creek and now living in Nelson, Jade left her family, partner, friends and career. She moved to Australia for a year during this difficult period in her life.

“I had those tough conversations with myself, letting go of my past and rediscovering myself, spiritually first then my Samoan heritage.”

It was then she began writing and realised she wanted to be a filmmaker. To tell stories and inspire people with her story or stories like hers.

“I really wanted to immerse myself in my culture and take my power back.”

And she’s doing that successfully.

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After graduating from the New Zealand Film School she got her start as a script supervisor on Jessica “Coco Solid” Hansel’s debut short film ‘No Laughing in the Faculty’ with Piki Films.

That helped inspire her to run film sets that feature ritual, culture and genuine connection. She founded Red Rock Films with her partner and collaborator Christopher Hines.

With a focus on bringing the Pasifika and Deaf experience to film with dignity, her short film ‘Raids’ is a drama showcasing the treatment of Pasifika people in the Dawn Raids of the 70s in Aotearoa. It was selected for the Melbourne Women In Film Festival, Wairoa Film Festival and Māoriland Film Festival.

Shortly after Jade was awarded script development funding and named a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Fund Fellow. She was also shortlisted for the Sundance Merata Mita Fellowship Award with her script ‘Losa’, the first feature film she’ll direct.

Jade also took out the Ngā Kōrero Tutu Iho Oral History Award. This gives a voice to Falema’i Lesā, a Samoan national resident who famously appealed her visa overstay conviction in 1982 and won.

The recording will be in Lesā’s native tongue of Sāmoan, to be archived in Pātaka Art + Museum, near Jade’s hometown in Porirua.