Apron Strings Narrative Film


NameApron Strings
Director(s)Sima Urale
Writer(s)Shuchi Kothari and Dianne Taylor
Rachel Gardner, Angela Littlejohn and Shuchi Kothari
Type of TextScript


Apron Strings is New Zealand Indian filmmaker and academic Shuchi Kothari’s first feature film as co-writer (with Dianne Taylor) and co-producer, as well as the feature film directorial debut of Samoan-born New Zealand filmmaker Sima Urale. Funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and TVNZ, it was the first Indian feature to be filmed in Aotearoa, and set the tone for Kothari’s extensive work as a writer, producer, professor and champion of pan-Asian screen representation to come.

Shot on location in Tāmaki Makaurau, Apron Strings is a character study of two matriarchs: Lorna (Jennifer Ludlum), the Pākehā owner of a cake shop, and Anita (Laila Rouass), the Sikh TV host of an Indian cooking show. While touching on their cultural differences and neighbouring lives in the ethnically diverse suburb of Ōtāhuhu, Kothari and Taylor’s script tells the women’s stories in parallel, free from an intersecting cross-cultural plot device. Speaking to RNZ about the writing process, Kothari noted this was a conscious decision: “It brings out into the public and into the world the kind of de facto multiculturalism that exists within a bicultural frame within New Zealand, and I think that’s really important.”

The film also sensitively explores family and the complex, sometimes hurtful co-dependent relationship between the two solo mothers and their sons, interwoven with the significance of cooking and sharing food. Discussing her storytelling obsession “over food and its relationship to power” in an interview for The Lumière Reader in 2004, Kothari noted “the role food [plays] in ideas of nurture and control” within Apron Strings, which was still in development at the time. Apron Strings went into production in 2007, extending the recurring theme of food that Kothari’s earlier television and short film projects, including A Taste of Place: Stories of Food and Longing (2001) for TV1, and the shorts Fleeting Beauty (2004) and Coffee & Allah (2007, also directed by Urale), had revolved around.

Apron Strings was selected to open the 40th edition of the New Zealand International Film Festival in 2008, in a record year for Aotearoa filmmakers with ten feature-length films programmed into the lineup. In an interview with the NZ Herald, Festival director Bill Gosden was effusive about elevating Apron Strings to opening night status: “It was selected in the first place because it’s such a strong film. It was irresistible to put it in the opening spot when we were celebrating 40 years of the Auckland Film Festival – to be able to open with a strong Auckland film was very appealing to us.”

Following its world premiere screenings, Apron Strings enjoyed a lengthy run on the international film festival circuit, screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and multiple other festivals in North America, Asian and Europe.


Key works / presentations

2009 — Cannes Film Festival (Cinema of the Antipodoes Programme)
2009 — Mill Valley Film Festival
2009 — Seattle International Film Festival
2009 — Festival International de Film de Femmes Creteil
2009 — Cleveland International Film Festival
2009 — Santa Barbara International Film Festival
2008 — Dubai International Film Festival
2008 — Women's International Film & Television Showcase
2008 — Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival
2008 — International Film Festival of India
2008 — Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival
2008 — Saint-Tropez Festival of the Antipodes
2008 — Toronto International Film Festival (international premiere)
2008 — New Zealand International Film Festival (opening night film)

Key awards

2009 — Women in Film and Television International Awards: Best Feature Film

2008 — Qantas Film and Television Awards: Best Lead Actor in a Feature Film (Scott Wills)

2008 — Qantas Film and Television Awards: Best Lead Actress in a Feature Film (Jennifer Ludlam)

2008 — Qantas Film and Television Awards: Best Cinematography in a Feature Film (Rewa Harre)

2008 — Qantas Film and Television Awards: Best Production Design in a Feature Film (Johnny Hawkins)

Related entries

Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit


A catalogue for the New Zealand International Film Festival, open at pages 9–10, advertising the films “Apron Strings” and “Rain of the Children”.

The listing for Apron Strings as it appeared in the 2008 New Zealand International Film Festival programme, page 9