From Kaikohe Demolition director Florian Habicht comes James & Isey, a touching documentary offering a look into the mother-son duo of Isey and James Cross. The film follows the days leading up to Isey’s 100th birthday.
Watching the film, you can’t help but get a sense of the overwhelming aroha between the two and the bond that they share. The overarching theme around the nature of life and love is present throughout the film and James and Isey’s interactions. While the film will leave viewers reflecting on these ideas, there are still many laughs along the way, thanks to Isey’s contagious joy and sense of humour.
The film also illustrates the effects of colonisation on the use of te reo Māori, as well as Māori culture and spirituality on a systemic and interpersonal level. James, a tohunga (Māori expert spiritual practitioner) utilises Māori spiritual practices and healing knowledge in order to get Isey to her 100th birthday. James also discusses how he cared for his father after his diagnosis with cancer, and shares a number of intimate spiritual experiences with viewers in the film. However, the film highlights key government actions such as the Tohunga Suppression Act and their subsequent effects on Māori.
Also featured in the film are Six60’s Matiu Walters (who is also Isey’s great-grandson) and the Bay of Islands College Kapa Haka Group, both of whom give excellent performances. Overall, Habicht has done well to share James and Isey’s heartwarming tale, and every viewer can learn a lesson or two about love and life from this film.