Film Raro announces its latest team to qualify for the Paradise Film Challenge will be led by award-winning filmmaker Karin William. Her work has earned dozens of honours including five Regional Emmys and a Peabody Award having worked for the past decade with native tribes and first nations in Alaska and Canada.
Karin’s project is the third to be announced for the Challenge, which will bring film crews from around the world to Rarotonga for seven days in May 2013 to mentor locals and together make and screen an original short film. The goal is to capacity build people and industry to demonstrate the potential of the Cook Islands to become the film friendliest tropical location in the world.
Karin and her team will make a short documentary telling the story of one of Rarotonga’s most popular love songs, Mou Piri. Her film will showcase the tune, now synonymous with Rarotongan weddings, in an evocative music video set in a 1950s packing-shed dance.
“In 2008 my sister got married and her girlfriends performed a beautiful dance to Mou Piri, written by Jon Jonassen and sung by Tara Kauvai,” says Karin. “We posted a home video of the wedding dance to YouTube – and were totally amazed as it racked up more than 90,000 hits from around the world. By documenting the story of this special song, we’ll be able to share more deeply Cook Islands music and culture with the world.” Locals will be invited to come along and join in as the shoot re-creates a bygone era.
Karin began her career in Rarotonga at the Cook Islands News in the days of manual typewriters and black-and-white photos. She went on to work in New Zealand and the United States with the likes of Radio New Zealand, PBS (America’s public broadcasting service) and National Geographic. She has now come full circle and is thrilled and honoured to be a part of Film Raro to have this opportunity to return to Rarotonga and tell a Cook Islands story.
“It’s been a long road from Raro to Hollywood, but I’ve never forgotten my roots in the South Pacific. My Cook Islands heritage has always been a source of strength and inspiration, and my elders have always told me that it’s our duty to support our nation. I’m excited about giving something back to the community, and sharing my knowledge of filmmaking and global media for the benefit of our people.” says Karin.
Film Raro resonates with Karin as it brings together the expertise of international filmmakers with locals, to work along side and inspire, helping indigenous peoples to eventually tell their own stories to perpetuate language, heritage and culture in today’s digital realm.
Karin also recognises the economic benefits Film Raro offers to the Cook Islands. “Film Raro has the potential to provide a major stimulus to the Cook Islands service industries, creative industries and especially tourism with the global exposure it will generate in a far greater and less expensive way than any type of paid advertising.”
Karin says she’s looking forward to working with fellow Cook Islander, Film Raro executive producer Stan Wolfgramm, who also has a long and successful career presenting Pacific Island cultures to mainstream audiences.
“Stan has dedicated his career to promoting and celebrating Pacific Island cultures on stage and screen. Now he’s bringing that experience, talent and passion to Rarotonga – along with a group of world-class film crews, who are volunteering their time and expertise. It’s going to be crazy, intense and fun. I hope many locals will join us and I look forward to seeing lots of old friends.” says Karin.
The inaugural Film Raro event is scheduled for May 2013.