In/Visible and Im/Mobile Subjects: Diaspora and Multiculturalism in Zia Mandviwalla’s Short Films

  • Paloma Fresno-Calleja


This chapter focuses on the filmic articulations of New Zealand’s recent diasporic movements in the short films written and directed by Zia Mandviwalla, a New Zealand film-maker of Indian descent. The films I consider are Eating Sausage (2004), the story of a Korean couple recently migrated to New Zealand, Amadi (2010), about a Rwandan refugee living alone in the country, and Night Shift (2012), the story of a Samoan woman working as a cleaner at Auckland’s international airport. In line with the topic of the collection, I intend to analyze each of these short films in relation to three main aspects. Firstly, I will look at how these films engage creatively and critically with representations of diasporic subjects as invisible and marginal to monocultural national narratives. Secondly, I consider how Mandviwalla’s work contributes to make these subjects visible to a mainstream audience, contextualizing different and intersecting diasporic histories and reflecting on diverse migration experiences—whether looking at the experience of larger ethnic groups with a longer diasporic history in New Zealand, such as the Pacific community, or focusing on “new” migrants of diverse Asian descent as well as refugees of African background. Thirdly, I consider the specific intra- and interethnic relationships portrayed in these films as evidence of the cross-cultural encounters that mark New Zealand’s (unofficial) multicultural narratives. Mandviwalla’s works pose questions about the specific nature of New Zealand’s multiculturalism in the absence of an official multicultural policy that recognizes and publicly negotiates the participation of these groups in the formation of the country’s cultural and visual narratives.


New Zealand short film Multiculturalism Zia Mandwivalla Diasporic film Representation New Zealand ethnic minorities Film Cinema Asian New Zealand film 


  1. Adey, P. (2007). ‘May I have your attention’: Airport geographies of spectatorship, position, and (im)mobility. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 25, 515–536. Scholar
  2. Bartley, A., & Spoonley, P. (2005). Constructing a workable multiculturalism in a bicultural society. In M. Belgrave, M. Kawharu, & D. V. Williams (Eds.), Waitangi revisited. Perspectives on the Treaty of Waitangi (pp. 136–148). Auckland, NZ: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bleiker, R., Hutchison, E., & Nicholson, N. (2013). The visual dehumanisation of refugees. Australian Journal of Political Science, 48(4), 398–416. Scholar
  4. Blomkamp, E. (2009). Framing short film: Cultural nationalism and economic rationalism in New Zealand film policy. Master’s Thesis. Auckland, NZ: University of Auckland.
  5. Bogen, R., & Marlowe, J. (2015). Asylum discourse in New Zealand: Moral panic and a culture of indifference. Australian Social Work, 70(1), 1–12. Scholar
  6. Brubaker, R. (2005). The ‘diaspora’ diaspora. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 25(1), 1–19. Scholar
  7. Butcher, A., & Spoonley, P. (2011). Inv-Asian: Print media constructions of Asians and Asian immigration. In P. Voci & J. Leckie (Eds.), Localising Asia in Aotearoa (pp. 98–115). Auckland, NZ: Dunmore Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cegielski, E. (2012). Short Film Director Manviwalla discusses ‘Night Shift’.
  9. Conrich, I., & Murray, S. (2008). Contemporary New Zealand Cinema: From new wave to blockbuster. London, UK: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  10. Edwards, L., Occhipinti, S., & Ryan, S. (2000). Food and immigration: The indigestion trope contests the sophistication narrative. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 21(3), 297–308. Scholar
  11. Evans, M. Cannes & Women Directors (3)—Zia Mandviwalla.
  12. Fish, S. (1997). Boutique multiculturalism, or why liberals are incapable of thinking about hate speech. Critical Inquiry, 23(2), 378–395. Scholar
  13. Fleras, A., & Spoonley, P. (1999). Recalling Aotearoa: Indigenous politics and ethnic relations in New Zealand. Auckland, NZ: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fresno-Calleja, P. (2011). Reel New Zealanders: Contesting ethnic tokenism and stereotyping in Roseanne Liang’s Take 3. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 15(1), 19–30. Scholar
  15. Fresno-Calleja, P. (2013). Food for thought: Filmic recipes for New Zealand’s multiculturalism. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 27(6), 850–861. Scholar
  16. Fuller, G. (2008). Welcome to Windows 2.1. Motion aesthetics at the Airport. In M. B. Salter (Ed.), Politics at the Airport (pp. 161–173). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hage, G. (1997). A home in the entrails of the west. Multiculturalism, ethnic food and migrant home-building. In H. Grace, G. Hage, L. Johnson, J. Langsworth, & M. Symmonds (Eds.), Home/world. Space, community and marginality in Sydney’s West (pp. 99–153). Sydney, Australia: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  18. Huijser, H. (2009). The multicultural nation in New Zealand cinema. Production, text, reception. Saarbrücken, Germnay: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.Google Scholar
  19. Ip, M., & Murphy, N. (2005). Aliens at my table. Asians as New Zealanders see them. Auckland, NZ: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Ip, M., & Pang, D. (2006). New Zealand Chinese identity: Sojourners, model minority and multiple identities. In J. H. Liu, T. McCreanor, T. McIntosh, & T. Teaiwa (Eds.), New Zealand identities: Departures and destinations (pp. 174–190). Wellington, NZ: Victoria University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kothari, S., Pearson, S., & Zuberi, N. (2004). Television and multiculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand. In R. Horrocks & N. Perri (Eds.), Television in New Zealand. Programming the nation (pp. 135–151). Auckland, NZ: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Liang, R. (2010). Cultural storytellers: Zia Mandviwalla. The Big Idea.
  23. Liang, R. dir. (2011). My Wedding and Other Secrets. New Zealand: South Pacific Pictures.Google Scholar
  24. Lyon, D. (2008). Filtering flows, friends, and foes. Global surveillance. In M. B. Salter (Ed.), Politics at the Airport (pp. 29–49). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mandviwalla, Z. dir. (2007). Clean Linen. New Zealand: Nomadz Unlimited.Google Scholar
  26. Mandviwalla, Z. dir. (2004). Eating Sausage. New Zealand: Produced by Annelise Coulam.Google Scholar
  27. Mandviwalla, Z. dir. (2010). Amadi. New Zealand: Frame up Films.Google Scholar
  28. Mandviwalla, Z. dir. (2012). Night Shift. New Zealand: Curious Film.Google Scholar
  29. Matuštík, M. (1998). Ludic, corporate and imperial multiculturalism. In C. Willett (Ed.), Theorizing multiculturalism: A guide to the current debate (pp. 100–118). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. Mercer, K. (1990). Black art and the burden of representation. Third Text, 4(10), 61–78. Scholar
  31. Naficy, H. (2001). Accented cinema: Exilic and diasporic filmmaking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Nicholas, G. dir. (1996). Broken English. New Zealand: Roadshow Pictures.Google Scholar
  33. Pearson, S., & Kothari, S. (2007). Menus for a multicultural New Zealand. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 21(1), 45–58. Scholar
  34. Pitts, V. (2006). Intercultural short filmmaking in Aotearoa New Zealand. Metro Magazine, 148, 140–146.Google Scholar
  35. Pitts, V. (2008). Cross-cultural filmmaking in New Zealand national cinema. Ph.D. Thesis. Auckland, NZ: University of Auckland.Google Scholar
  36. Salter, M. B. (2008). Introduction. Airport assemblage. In M. B. Salter (Ed.), Politics at the Airport (pp. ix–xix). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  37. Savage, L. dir. (2011). Monifa. New Zealand: Monifa Pictures.Google Scholar
  38. Shepard, D. (2000). Reframing women. A history of New Zealand film. Auckland, NZ: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  39. Smith, J. (2010). New Zealand cinema and the postcolonial exotic: The case of Apron Strings. Transnational Cinemas, 1(2), 129–144. Scholar
  40. Spoonley, P., & Bedford, R. (2012). Welcome to our world? Immigration and the reshaping of New Zealand. Auckland, NZ: Dunmore Press.Google Scholar
  41. Statistics New Zealand/Tatauranga Aotearoa. (2013). 2013 Census.
  42. Sulaiman-Hill, C., Thompson, S., Afsar, R., & Hodliffe, T. (2011). Changing images of refugees: A comparative analysis of Australian and New Zealand print media 1998–2008. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 9, 345–366. Scholar
  43. Thornley, D. (2014). ‘A Space Being Right on that Boundary’: Critiquing cross-culural collaboraion in Aotearoa New Zealand Cinema. In D. Thornley (Ed.), Cinema, cross-cultural collaboration, and criticism (pp. 74–102). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  44. Ty, E. (2004). The politics of the visible in Asian North American narratives. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Urale, S. dir. (2007). Coffee and Allah. New Zealand: Nomadz Unlimited.Google Scholar
  46. Urale, S. dir. (2008). Apron Strings. New Zealand: Great Southern Television.Google Scholar
  47. Urry, J., Elliott, A., Radford, D., & Pitt, N. (2016). Globalisations utopia? On airport atmospherics. Emotion, Space and Society, 19, 13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wise, A. (2009). Everyday multiculturalism: Transversal crossings and working class cosmopolitans. In A. Wise & S. Velayuthan (Eds.), Everyday multiculturalism (pp. 21–45). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wise, A., & Velayuthan, S. (2009). Introduction: Multiculturalism and everyday life. In A. Wise & S. Velayuthan (Eds.), Everyday multiculturalism (pp. 1–17). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xu, W. (2007). Eating identities: Reading food in Asian American literature. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‘i Press.Google Scholar
  51. Zalipour, A. (2013). ‘New’ New Zealand stories on the periphery of New Zealand cinema. Communication Journal of New Zealand, 13 (December 1, 2013), 1–14. Google Scholar
  52. Zalipour, A. (2015). Emerging Asian New Zealand filmmakers in New Zealand cinema. In B. Goldsmith, M. Ryan, & G. Lealand (Eds.), Directory of world cinema: Australia and New Zealand 2 (pp. 311–319). Bristol, UK: Intellect.Google Scholar
  53. Zalipour, A. (2016). Interstitial and collective filmmaking in New Zealand: The case of Asian New Zealand film. Transnational Cinemas, 7(1), 96–110. Scholar
  54. Zalipour, A., & Hardy, A. (2016). Women, religion, and food: Indian diasporic film in New Zealand. Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 45(8), 775–789. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Balearic IslandsPalmaSpain

Personalised recommendations