Apron Strings - Resource Folder Material


1 What are the connotations of the phrase ‘apron strings’?

Background & The Director – Sima Urale

Born in Samoa in 1967, Sima Urale immigrated to New Zealand with her family in 1974. After graduating from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School, in 1989, Urale worked for two years as an actor before pursuing her ambitions as a director. She studied at the Victorian College of the Arts Film and Television (formerly Swinburne) in Melbourne. In 1993 she won the VCA Encouragement Student Award, and in 1994 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in arts, film and television. On returning home to Wellington, Urale wrote and directed her short film //O Tamaiti// (1996), a powerful visual narrative focused on the children's experience in an immigrant family. //O Tamaiti//marked an impressive international debut for Urale, winning Best Short Film (Silver Lion), Venice Film Festival; Best Short Film, Asia-Pacific Film Festival; Best Short Film (Silver Plaque) 32nd Chicago Film Festival; Best Short Film, NZ Film and TV Awards; and Best screenplay, Flickerfest, Australia. In 1997 Urale directed her first documentary, //Velvet Dreams//, for TVNZ Work of Art series with producer Vincent Burke. It went on to screen at the NZ and Hawaii film festivals, and won Best Documentary Award at the Yorkton International Film Festival in Canada. Her first music video Sub-cranium Feeling, filmed underwater for her brother King Kapisi, won Best Music Video at the BFM, Mai Time, and Flying Fish Awards, and in 2004 was awarded a NZ On Air 1000 Music Video Celebration's Award. Urale's second short film Still Life (2001) became the first New Zealand short to pick up the top award from the prestigious Montreal Film Festival. Still Lifereceived a Special Mention Award at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, as well as Best Director, Best Art Department and Best Script at the Drifting Clouds International Film Festival 2002. In 2004, Urale was awarded the inaugural Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers' Residency at the University of Hawaii. In 2006 she attended the six month Mauritz Binger Script development programme in Amsterdam where she focused on the feature project Moana. On her return to New Zealand in 2007, she directed the short film Coffee & Allah, written by Shuchi Khotari, and produced by Khotari and Sarina Pearson. Coffee & Allahhad its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Urale recently (2008) completed her debut feature film, //Apron Strings//, with producer Rachel Gardner, writers Shuchi Khotari and Dianne Taylor; and DoP, Rewa Harre. The film premiered at the 2008 Auckland Film Festival and was officially selected for the Toronto Film Festival.
During Viewing
3 The most exciting scenes in the film are …
4 The most disturbing scenes in the film are …
5 The most important scenes in the film are …
6 Design two character webs. One for Lorna’s side of the story and one for Michael’s side of the story. Draw lines to show the connections between characters. Note on the lines the details of the connections that exist.

7 Write down some questions that you would like to ask the director about the big ideas, characters, cinematic techniques.
8 Copy the statements which show what the film maker shows in the film. Be ready with your reasons and examples from the film.
A Family is important to Michael.
B Barry’s relationship with his mum improved over time.
C Mother and son relationships are complicated.
D Some people find it hard to accept change.
E Indian families have issues with traditions.
9 Write a 60 word plot summary to be read aloud at a Yr 12 assembly to promote the lunchtime viewing of this film. Try reducing your plot summary to 50 words, then 30 and finally, 15 words!

Post Viewing

10 After viewing ‘Apron Strings' more than once complete a K W L chart like the one below:

What I Know …
What I still Want to know …
What I have Learnt …
  • The film is set in Otahuhu

  • Why did Barry…

· That some people find it hard to accept change in their lives



A The facts: Age? Occupation? Spends his spare time? Main mood? State of relationships?
B What does this quotation reveal about Barry? “You just want me to sit here at rot,” Barry to his mother.
C Mr Tran says to Barry, “You still believe in luck.” What does this quote reveal about Barry? D What is the turning point for Barry?

E Where is Barry at the end of the film? Where will he be in 12 months time?
F What does Barry teach viewers?

A Facts: Age? Occupation? Spends his spare time? Main mood? State of relationships?

B What first brings Michael into Otahuhu?

C Why does Michael be-friend his Aunt Tara?

D What is Michael looking for in the film? Why does he not already have what he is looking for?

E What two reasons does Tara have for not accepting Michael?

F What influence does Michael have on his Mum?

G What influence does Michael have in his Aunt Tara?

13 TARA (The Aunt/Sister)
A Why does Tara not have a relationship with her sister, Anita?

B Does Tara live in the past/present … bit of both? Explain.

C It is important to Tara to maintain family traditions. True/False? Prove.

D Were you surprised when she asked of Michael when he announced he was gay, “Have you seen a doctor?” Why/why not?

E What is meaningful about Tara giving Michael her dad’s bangle?

F What does Tara’s character teach viewers?

14 ANITA (Michael’s Mum)
A What is ironic about Anita hosting an Indian cooking show?

B “You let yourself be shunned. I won’t,” says Michael to his mother Anita. What event is he referring to in his mother’s past?

C How did the director create a sense of Anita being the ‘successful’ sister?

D Why does Anita go to Tara’s curry house towards the end of the film?

E Create a compare and contrast diagram to show how the characters’ similarities and differences.

F Choose, draw/find and explain a symbol to represent Tara and one to represent Anita.

15 LORNA (Barry and Virginia’s Mum)
A Lorna is obsessed with which smell?

B At the start of the film, Lorna says, “They don’t make black and white together.” How does this quote represent Lorna’s outlook on different cultures?

C Tradition is important to Lorna. Find several examples of Lorna trying to hold on to traditions.

D “Why can’t you do anything normal?” Lorna asks Barry. What does Lorna consider abnormal?

E What happened to Lorna’s husband? How does this affect her actions in the film?

F Lorna asks Tara for a recipe for Chicken Korma … what is this even symbolic of?

G What even pushes Lorna over the edge?

H Where is Lorna’s ‘at’ at the end of the film? What will her relationship be like with her son after a year? What will her relationship be like with her daughter and granddaughter after a year?

18 Traditions/Identity/Change - Conflict
A The Cake Shop - “ … Mum opened it 52 years ago”. Does the cake shop ‘fit’ in the Otahuhu community? Why/why not? How is it made obvious in the film?

B Marrying within your ethnic group – “my parents were so ashamed it killed them.” “I didn’t reject my family. They rejected me.” Why do some ethnic groups seem more concerned about marrying with the same group, than others? Give examples from the film.

C Carrying on a family legacy - the vege shop changed into a curry house in Otahuhu. Is Tara happy in her work? Why does she stay in Otahuhu?

D Can people be held back by traditions? Details from the film.

E Does change always bring conflict? Details from the film.

F Reconciliation is an important idea in the film. There is reconciliation between the past and present and between parents and their children. Write a brief paragraph to explain the idea of reconciliation in the film. Make sure you use examples in your paragraph.

G Acceptance is another important idea in the film. People learn or begin to learn to accept others. Write a brief paragraph to explain the idea of acceptance in the film. Make sure you use examples in your paragraph.

H “Tandem Lives” – how are the Pakeha and Indian stories in this film similar?

20 Cinematography
A Re-watch the title sequence, Chapter 1 up to 3.27mins, and complete the following tasks:
  • What is the predominant shot type? Why?
  • Describe the tone/atmosphere of this sequence. HOW is it created?
  • What does sound contribute to this sequence?
  • How does this sequence contribute to character and/or plot development and/or communicating themes?
  • What is the initial link between all 3 women?

B Re-watch Chapter 15 - Tea. Complete this table showing what happens.

Tara, Michael and Anita
Lorna, Virginia, Grandmother
Together in restaurant kitchen – make chai

Virginia filling the jug to make tea

Chai being made

Great grandma holding “black baby”

“I hope it’s how you like it.” “It’s good.”

What is Urale’s intention and how is her intention achieved? Discuss what makes the ending satisfying.

C Is there one pivotal scene in this film? What is it? Why is it pivotal? How is its importance in the whole film communicated?

21 Symbols

A What does the cake shop in the film represent?
B What does the Vietnamese bakery in the film represent?
C What does the curry house represent?
D What does the set of Anita’s TV cooking show represent?
E What do the cups of tea/chai at the end of the film represent?
F What do Lorna’s pale colours represent?
G What do the vibrant colours of Anita represent?

22 Music

A The 2 main types of music used in the film are traditional Indian music and some rock music.

B When does the director use each type of music?

C Explain why the director chose to use each type of music. Link your answers to theme, characterisation, setting, etc.

23 Response, Reviews and Opinions

A Find two published reviews of at least 200 words in length. Preferably, one from a NZ source and one from overseas. Go through them and in one colour highlight facts, in a different colour highlight the authors’ opinions.

B Put the following elements of a film into your order of importance – explain your choices….
  • The script
  • The acting
  • The lighting
  • The settings
  • The camera
  • The sound/music
  • The symbols
Give some examples from Apron Strings to support your point of view.