FIFO premiere!

Yesterday evening the seventh edition of FIFO created something novel by opening the Maison de la Culture’s grand théâtre doors for ‘Fiction Night.’ A taste of what the festival has in store with a short film fiction section, this projection put eight productions under the spotlight (7 short films from Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and French Polynesia, and one feature length French film), for many reminding us what each culture brings per se from deep within, these things that we don’t choose, which make us what we are.

A contemplative, explanatory and at times fantastical window onto the roots peculiar to each people, which composes the individual character of some in their confrontation with others. Michèle De Chazeaux who was on the film selection committee, welcomes the initiative which, “Opens a door for individual creativity and favours a more personal form of expression. The imagination is undoubtedly less compartmentalized, less restricted by the rules that are imposed by documentary; there is a freedom of expression and the need for more imagination.” […] “What really struck us,” she continued, “is the emotion which comes from each of these films.” Of course, the production technique prevailed as criteria for choice, the quality of the scenario’s stylistic composition which holds together a well bound story was also rewarded, but beyond all that, sentiment was the key word.  “On the whole, this set is not very joyful,” Michèle specifies, “Even distressing, but very emotional. I admit that I was disconcerted at the beginning by the quite tragic content of what we had been sent. That is where image aesthetics played a role: when the emotional impact was strong, the beauty countered its moving quality.

Out of the sixty or so films received, four of which are feature films, the selection allowed a glimpse of the scriptwriters’, to say the least, inventiveness. ‘Chief,’ by Brett Wagner, tells us about the life of Semu Fatutoa who forces himself to forget his past in order to face up to the loss of his daughter and all those who were ‘carried away by  a gust of wind in the night,’ as is often the case in Samoa. ‘One for Sorrow,’ by Virginie Tetoofa, outlines the pain of the loss of a loved one with chalk in a game of hopscotch. ‘Taua – War Party,’ by Tearepa Kahi, reflects servitude versus ingratitude in wartime. ‘Ma’ohi Touch,’ a Beau Geste production, films ambiguous images to the sound of ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana, and ‘O Tamaiti’ by Sima Urale removes colour to accentuate sound, and increase tenfold the laughter of children, despite the sadness of their expressions. Two more light-hearted productions counter balance the emotional content. The ‘Alert in Papara’ episode from the Vidados @ Tahiti series ridiculed amorous desire by evoking the nostalgia of the legendary ‘Alert in Malibu’ and finally ‘Boxer,’ a Victorian College of the Arts production, has brought the absurd humour of a fine Australian team to the screen.

In the second half of the evening, the avant-première of the film ‘Mr. Fortune’s Maggot,’ filmed in Tahiti and Moorea played on the importance of remembering past barbarity to better apologise for it. From these preachers who want to save, ‘the savages of sin,’ these ‘poor guys who live in the shadows,’ these ‘lost sheep who sprawl around in idleness, laziness and luxury’…we learn a great lesson in humility. And finally, ‘Thanks to God’ (without a bad play on words), it’s a case of the biter bit. The reactions at the end are rather complacent: “That goes to show, things should have been left to run their course,” assures a sympathetic, young Polynesian who adds, “It’s a great film, which lets us discover our culture and permits us to see in what way we were, as it were, colonised. This is a production which refers again to the value of respect towards differences.

On the whole the public appreciation was unanimous: to be repeated without a doubt!

Manon Hericher