Apron Strings

Sunday Theatre this week is the Sima Urale-directed Kiwi film, Apron Strings, which tells the stories of three women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around food:

Lorna (Jennifer Ludlam), who runs an old-fashioned cake shop; Anita (Laila Rouass), who stars in her own stylish Indian cooking show on TV; and her estranged sister Tara (Leela Patel), who owns a no-frills curry house.

Hard-working Lorna must not only deal with her unemployed stay-at-home son Barry (Scott Wills) and his chronic gambling addiction, but a tragic past that haunts them both. For TV cook Anita, things come to a head when her son Michael (Nathan Whitaker) decides to meet her estranged sister and delve into a past that she cannot bear to face.

Through the metaphor of food, Apron Strings, written Shuchi Kothari and Diane Taylor, explores the fine line between maternal nurture and control and the strength of family ties. The film also features Jodie Rimmer and veteran theatre hand, Dame Kate Harcourt.

The lusciously-shot Apron Strings is Urale’s feature-film debut; the Samoa-born Aucklander previously made the award-winning short films O Tamaiti and Still Life. Despite the strong female sensibility running throughout the film, Urale says that it isn’t simply a story about women – it’s about the social issues New Zealanders share.

“It’s about their sons and the next generation; the changing face of New Zealand and the underlying bigotry; the affects of gambling that has become a major social issue in recent years; and the age-old conflict between traditional and modern, old and new, which also reminds us we have more in common with each other across cultures than we think.”

Urale says she was touched by the story’s exploration of the tenderness and complications of mother-son relationships. “There’s also plenty of humour played out in character situations and their stubborn attitudes that also made me laugh.”

Shuchi Kothari and Diane Taylor say the plan to co-write Apron Strings was sparked over a bowl of noodles in Soho, London, and the characters were developed over a chickpea curry in Otahuhu, where the film is set. Apron Strings is the first feature focused on Indian culture to be funded through official channels in New Zealand – Television New Zealand, The New Zealand Film Commission, and New Zealand On Air.

Photo: Laila Rouass.

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