FIFO’s strong South Pacific focus sees the doco festival open its 11th edition in two weeks.
FIFO has, from afar, always seemed something of an odd event, despite its geographic focus. An identity crisis with a projector, it tries to serve simultaneously the differing demands of its French-speaking locals, international sponsors and (mostly English-speaking) international guests and filmmakers.
France Televisions is a long-time supporter of the event, which explains the large amount of its programming that plays in and out of competition. Since Polynesia has colonial relationships with France, it’s hard to imagine FIFO being a hard a sell for French sponsorship.
This year’s 10-strong competition line-up includes one NZ title, Amy Taylor’s Moko the dolphin doco Soul in the Sea, which premiered here in last year’s NZIFF before being selected in competition for the biennial and prestigious Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival.
There’s the rare sight in FIFO competition of a title hailing from the US, although Adam Jonas Horowitz’s Nuclear Savage has a distinctly Pacific theme: America’s 1950s Marshall Islands-based programme of nuclear testing.
Australian selections are Dylan McDonald’s Buckskin, Steven McGregor’s Big Name, No Blanket, and Martin Butler & Dean Bentley’s First Footprint – Super Nomads 50 000 – 30 000 years ago.
NZ titles have performed well in competition at FIFO in recent years. Tearepa Kahi’s Allan Baldwin, Mika Jonathan’s The Road to the Globe: Troilus & Cressida, James Bradley’s Ochre and Ink, Thomas Burstyn’s This Way of Life and Juliette Veber’s Trouble Is My Business have taken Special Jury Prizes at FIFO’s last three editions.
NZ representation on this year’s jury comes in the form of Witi Ihimaera, writer of many a tale adapted for the screen, of which the most recent is Dana Rotberg’s White Lies (from Ihimaera’s Medicine Woman). Next up will be Lee Tamahori’s The Patriarch, adapted from Ihimaera’s Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies.
Ihimaera is joined on the jury by Julia Overton, a regular at Doc Edge during her time at Screen Australia; Samoan animator Jacob Luamanuvae; Hawaii International Film Festival’s Chuck Boller; plus three locals: poet Emmanuel Tjibaou, OPT’s director of communication and multimedia Moana Brotherson, and journalist Stella Taaroamea.
Last year, FIFO introduced a vox pop prize for the most popular film at its Pacific Short Film Night, from which Tammy Davis’ Ebony Society took away the inaugural cheque.
This year the Shorts Night is an exclusively French Polynesia and NZ affair. The programme offers neuf courts metrages, as the Tahitians say. The French Polynesian titles are clear winners for brevity, all coming in at a very trim 2 minutes. Combined, they run shorter than any one of the NZ selections.
The French-Polynesian titles are Naea Jacquet’s Hou a ha’amata ai; Vanina Béa’s LOL; and a pair of Sadry Ghacir’s films, Rai et Mana: Le pareo and Rai et Mana: Le Uru.
From NZ, the titles are Lauren Jackson’s I’m going to mum’s, Sam Kelly’s Lambs, Marina Alofiagia McCartney’s Milk & Honey, Chantelle Burgoyne’s Tatau and Libby Hakaraia’s The Lawnmower Men of Kapu.
Out of Competition
Two of TVNZ’s Waka Huia programmes, both directed by Piata Gardinier-Hoskins, will screen out of competition. Te Hono Ki Rapa Nui and Rupene Mare play as part of a selection dominated by programming made by or for sponsor France Televisions.
Among these is La Renaissance De La Culture Maori, which
plunges the audience into contemporary Maori society in New Zealand, formerly threatened with extinction … [and] instils the hope that revival of a traditional culture in a dominant western world is possible.
FIFO serves up a mix of introductory open workshops targeted at non-professionals, mostly covering basic filmmaking skills, presentations by attending speakers and filmmakers (including Ihimaera) and the industry-focused Television Dialogues. These include speaker and panel-led sessions dealing specifically with Pacific broadcasting issues and the Pitch competition.
FIFO runs 3 – 9 February in Tahiti. Documentary Edge is attending FIFO for the first time in a reciprocal arrangement which will see FIFO representatives attending the Doc Edge Forum in May.
Note: there are some discrepancies in the listings of in-competition titles for 2014 between FIFO’s website and catalogue. This article has referenced the catalogue.