Today I drove an hour and a half to Papeete for the final day of the FIFO Pacific International Documentary Film Festival; all I can say is WOW. The festival showcases films from around the Pacific from Australia and Papua New Guinea to Hawaii, French Polynesia and everywhere in between.
FIFO Films are chosen for the competition several months prior to the six-day festival and an international panel of judges vote for the winner. A 1000 CFP (about US$12) ticket gets you a day pass that allows you to watch as many films as you want in the handful of small theaters on the Papeete waterfront. Most of the documentaries run between half an hour and an hour an a half.
Here are trailers of a few 2010 selections:
This was the winner of the festival: Te Henua E Noho, There Once Was an Island, a sad story, brilliantly documented, about Takuu, a Polynesian atoll off of Papua New Guinea that is indisputably drowning in rising sea levels.
Lost in Wonderland: I LOVED this film about the incredibly masculine and rich life of a cross dressing, justice-driven lawyer in New Zealand
From Australia, Bastardy was one of the festival highlights. The film tells the story of Jack, an Aboriginal heroin addict who lives on the streets and juggles a successful acting career with a life of crime.
Noho Hewa is a rare and militant look at the US "occupation" of the Hawaiian Islands
The Topp Twins, Untouchable Girls is another fantastic film about some very entertaining twin lesbian sisters in New Zealand
All the films are in English or subtitled in English. Unfortunately there aren't any trailers on the web for some of the French produced films and smaller productions. My favorite film was Les Possedes de Faaite, which brilliantly traced the history of the shocking witch burnings that took place on the remote atoll of Faaite in the Tuamotu Archipelgo in 1987. The film goes deep into the psyche of remote island living (that I am, for obvious reasons, fascinated by) and the effects Christianity has when mixed with Polynesian beliefs. I've been scouring the web to find a copy of this film on DVD but with no luck! If anyone knows where I can find a copy of it please send me a message.
For more info about the festival go to the FIFO website.