2014 / 15 min / united states

Ma is a story about a Samoan grandmother trying to survive her worst fear – being alone.
Ma’s Sunday begins like any other with a visit to Church. Ma's approached by the church Bishop with accusations of coercing an elderly women's group to a nightclub. Ma leaves the Bishop in disbelief, proudly revealing that they had a wonderful time and they all still believe in God. 

When she arrives home Ma notices that one of her precious soft toys is missing.

Infuriated, Ma does some quick detective work on the phone before heading out for church. Along the way she experiences a rude, inappropriate driver who she follows and stealthily confronts in a local car park, teaching him a lesson that he'll never forget.

Ma is no ordinary grandmother. She's strong-willed, opinionated and can take on the toughest, and usually does. But under the rock-hard exterior is an old woman trying to endure what's left of her existence and reclaim the feeling of control that she once had in her younger years; the feeling of being needed. Ma is a story about one woman's strength, weakness, love and humanity in a world that has almost forgotten her.

Screening Friday, April 5 10:00 pm

Nikki “Thunder” Si’ulepa has worked in the New Zealand Film and Television industry since 1995 both in front of and behind the camera.

She first fell into acting by association straight after high school, landing a lead role in New Zealand / Canadian feature film, “The Whole of the Moon”.  The rookie won two best actress awards for her portrayal of “Marty”, a rebellious street kid with cancer who finds love in a hospital.

After her acting debut, Nikki dabbled in production jobs on film sets, as her true passion was behind the camera.  She was eventually persuaded by her family to get a “real job” so she left the industry for the time being.

A few years passed and Nikki became frustrated at the tedious “nine to five” lifestyle so she began script writing.

She found her way back in front of the camera as a reporter / director for Television New Zealand’s Pacific Current Affairs Show, Tagata Pasifika.  It was here that she developed journalistic and directing skills and also learnt how to operate a camera.  Nikki fine tuned her story telling abilities with successful reality strands and her first documentary, Salat se Rotuma – Passage to Rotuma, which she directed and shot.  In 2012 the documentary was selected to screen at the FIPA International Festival of Audio Visual Programmes in Biarittz, France, FIFO Pacific International Documentary Film Festival in Papeete, Tahiti, and at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in Aotearoa, (NZ).

Nikki wrote and co-directed a New Zealand Film Commission funded short film, Snow in Paradise.  The story follows a young girl in the 1960’s on a small island in the South Pacific, (Aitutaki, Cook Islands).  A nuclear test bomb detonates near by and life on the island is changed forever.  The film was one of hundreds selected for the 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany and won Best Short Film at the 2013 Festival International du Film d'Environnement (FIFE) in Paris, France.

2012 was a busy one.  Nikki filmed another reality strand on high school Kilikiti, (Samoan Cricket), teams, and began shooting a documentary about a relative's cultural journey of identity.  She was spotted in front of the camera on TV3's award winning comedy series, Super City, and up and coming, thriller feature film, Housebound, currently in post production.  Nikki shot a documentary in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) for TVNZ's indigenous Māori language programme, Waka Huia. 
In 2013 Nikki and producer, Ngaire Fuata, self funded and shot a short film about Nikki's grandmother called, Ma.  The film was selected for various international film festivals including ImagiNATIVE, NZ International Film Festival, and Maoriland. 

Nikki is currently directing a feature length romantic comedy called, Same But Different, scheduled for general release in cinemas in 2019.