Tuahine Pictures Ltd

I Am Paradise - Short Film

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This is the story of a mother's struggle to raise two small children alone while their father is in prison. Paradise knows the world is not kind if you're young, Maori and poor. Her children Mars and Venus trust her to make the best decisions for their small family, and they remind her that if you turn your face towards the sun, the shadows will fall behind you.

This short film has been inspired by countless mothers who grapple with the realities of poverty and single parenthood. Welfare is often not enough and many families have to make difficult decisions to stay afloat. This is an important conversation, and we hope this film encourages dialogue on Maori poverty and the over-representation of Maori in prisons and crime.

From multi award-winning writer and director Hiona Henare (Uru, Native In Nuhaka, Y2K), produced by Kath Akuhuta-Brown (Sunday Fun Day, Laundry, Ara), and starring Ricky Lee Waipuka-Russell (Taika Waititi's, Boy). Shooting will take place during April 2018 in Horowhenua and Levin, the director's hometown.

Hiona Henare is a multi award-winning filmmaker and alumnu of the prestigious Berlinale film talents programme. She is also recipient of the Australian Solid Screen "Contribution to Screen Arts" award. Former CEO of Nga Aho Whakaari, she has represented filmmakers on the executive boards of Women in Film & Television, Nga Aho Whakaari (Maori in Film & Television), Wairoa Maori Film Festival and TeNati Tahitian Film Festival. Hiona has studied film in Aotearoa, Australia, Canada, Germany and Serbia. In 2017 Hiona spearheaded the international documentary project 'Spirit Women' due for release on the Māori new year in 2018.

I am Paradise has received a grant of $30,000 through the New Zealand Film Commission's 2017 Short Film Fund (Fresh Shorts). While this will go a long way towards covering our production costs, the film needs a little extra boost.

Many short films are shot over a period of three days. However, because we are working with children we will need to extend the shoot to four days. As filmmakers we comply with the New Zealand Film Industry regulations on working with children. Children are permitted only to work for a maximum of six hours each work day from the moment they leave home and until they return.

Additionally, some of our film crew will be traveling from Auckland, Te Aroha and Napier and this will incur extra costs. The funds raised through the Boosted campaign will be used to cover rental on equipment and all the crew's fees and accommodation for the extra day of shooting.

If you would like to support this project please donate. You can also help to spread the word by following us on facebook and sharing our posts with your friends and whanau.

Supporters will be invited to attend a special screening in Wellington later in the year, when the film is complete.

Thank you for your support.


  • Be Who You Want to Be.

    1 WEEK AGO

    For all the young Mums out there that need empowerment and encouragement right now, we hope this video finds you.

  • Video update and 25% funded

    1 WEEK AGO

    Meet our amazing producer Kath.

    It's not too late to give a small donation towards our crowd fund, only 7 days left!

    Thank you to our donors Teresa McGregor, Debra Tanfield, Tanya Wheeler, Maraea Rakuraku, Rachel O’Neill, DJ Panda, Cushla Dillon, Alex Liu and our anonymous donors.

  • Video update: Diane and Mishana

    1 WEEK AGO

    Diane and Mishana bravely share their stories with us.

  • Video update with Ricky Lee

    1 WEEK AGO

    Actress Ricky Russell researches her role as a young Mum with a boyfriend in Prison.




    We're inviting others to join our campaign by sending us an image using the #IAMPARADISE hashtag. Share a story with us too, we'd love to hear your experiences.

  • Video update and 21% funded!


    Hiona and Ricky have been working hard to create behind the scenes videos to share with everybody.

    Thank you to all our wonderful donors: Brent McGregor, Lissa McGregor, Corrina Sharee, Tracy Tawhiao, Anahera Parata, Anne Rowntree, Lara Northcroft, Kim Webby, Mike Jonathan, Julie Paama-Pengelly, Phoebe Fulton, Fiona Apanui-Kupenga, Sarah Stone, Matthew Downes, Michael Hodder, Kim Muriwai, Ruth Robertson-Taylor and all the anonymous givers. 

    We are so grateful for your support, you've already helped us reach 21 percent of our goal!

  • Location recce in the Horowhenua


    Director Hiona Henare and actress Ricky Lee Waipuka-Russell on location recce in the Horowhenua - looking for Paradise...

    Location recce in the Horowhenua