A young man explores a memory of a childhood game and a lesson learned from his uncle. The memory provides respite from the profound grief of the uncle’s passing and allows him time to reconcile his feelings of loss and say farewell.
DIRECTOR’S NOTES -SUMMER AGNEW
“In any culture a tangi (funeral) reminds us that the relationship between life and death is intricate. A tangi is when the living and the dead come together equally, in the whare nui (meeting house) to ensure the safe passage of the spirit of the deceased to the afterlife. Maori belief is that those who have died are always with the marae and that the recently dead are released into the care of the long dead. It is also a vital time for the living to mourn their loved one and for the spirit of the dead to be released from its earthy bindings. Once the body is buried and mourning is completed the spirits return to the afterlife and the living are able to move out into the world where life continues with the knowledge that their loved one has moved on.
In Patu Ihu the communal scenario of the tangi is secondary to the personal narrative of the bond between a child and his uncle. The film focuses on the relevance of one person’s loss of that bond and how they deal with that profound moment in their life, in a community where life and death are so intertwined. I wanted the film to feel like a chance witnessing of a moment in the narrative of a life that is continuing to unfold, rather than the story of an event that defined a life. So the film is book-ended by images of the natural world, of life outside the immediate narrative of the film. It was important to me that Narks moved out into that world with his life continuing, even though our eye has moved away from him.”