Taika Waititi's Piki Films To Develop Three Indigenous Projects About Colonization

Taika Waititi is giving a boost to indigenous voices with his production banner Piki Films' new initiative focusing on stories about colonization. Waititi and Carthew Neal's production company Piki Films is developing three projects with Maori writers, each of which will tackle the effects of colonization.ScreenDaily reports that Waititi and Neal's New Zealand producton company Piki Films is launching new projects from indigenous writers that will focus on the effects of colonization. The company is working on two feature films and a TV series, all headed by Maori writers. Neal will lead the development of these projects alongside producer Morgan Waru.

While it's not yet determined how deeply Waititi and Neal will be involved in each project, they've both had producer or executive producer credits on Piki titles not directed by Waititi, such as 2018's The Breaker Upperers. Regardless, having Waititi's name attached will give a definite boost to these three new projects.

The first project is a film adaptation of Tina Makereti's novel The Imaginary Lives Of James Poneke, which tells the story of "a Maori teenager in the 1840s who travels to London to appear as a live exhibit among other Maori artifacts. He initially enjoys the attention and hedonism of London, but soon discovers he can't get past being labelled as a savage."

"It seems strangely timely to see this story developed into a film, as we witness the toppling of colonial statues and attitudes," said Makereti in a statement.

The second project is a feature adaptation of Angella Dravid's stand-up comedy show Down The Rabbit Hole, which tells her true story of her running away to the other side of the world to marry a man three times her age, before she eventually lands in a female prison in the U.K. Briar Grace-Smith (Waru) will write the script with Dravid.

The third project is a crime series Better The Blood, which follows "an obsessive Maori detective as she hunts down an indigenous serial killer revenging the wrongs of New Zealand's colonizers." Created by Michael Bennett and Jane Holland, who recently collaborated on the acclaimed New Zealand 2018 TV film In Dark Places, this is the only TV series of the new projects.

Piki's new initiative comes amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, which has not only sparked discussions about race in regards to Black people, but in the lingering aftermath of colonization — embodied in the statues of colonialists that are being torn down around the world alongside renowned Confederate generals in the United States. A statue of British colonialist George Hamilton was removed this month in New Zealand.