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13th FIFO: a vital window to Oceania

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The 13th FIFO is officially open. On Tuesday morning, the opening ceremony took place on the Maison de la Culture paepae in the presence of politicians, AFIFO and the jury chairmans, representatives from France Télévisions and the High Commissioner… Each spoke in turn to launch this new edition.

 

The whole government is here, are you trying to impress us?’ The iconic chairman of AFIFO, Wallès Kotra, always says the right thing provoking laughter and relaxing the at times too officious atmosphere. Standing in front of the forum, the Caledonian takes advantage of the microphone to thank the public, as well as private, partners of the festival, to thank them for enabling FIFO to take this route. The chairman of AFIFO, a sensitive man, did not forget to spare a thought for ‘these Australians held in Burkina Faso,’ before handing the microphone to the chairman of the jury, Abderrahmane Sissako.

 

Preserving identity and culture 

 

My story with FIFO began as soon as I heard the minister Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu speak at Quai Branly.’ The Mauritanian director clearly recalls the minister’s simple words when he spoke about his people and his culture. Abderrahmane thanked the Minister of Culture for having moved and touched him so much. ‘I felt the same thing when I arrived, I had a magical welcome.’ Even if it is difficult to perceive this discrete and humble man’s strong reaction, the public could feel the emotion that seems to have permeated him since coming to the fenua. ‘It is important for an African to come here. It is important for him, as it is for you, to continue to fight to preserve identity and culture.’ Abderrahmane Sissako also discusses the importance of documentary, the importance of highlighting how people struggle on a daily basis to preserve disappearing cultures and traditions. Applause from the gathering…

 

Mirror image of Oceania
At FIFO, it is not only a question of culture but also of the future. Michel Kops, the representative of the new director of France Télévisions, recalls the imminent arrival of digital, how important it is for FIFO to root itself in this dynamic. ‘Today, the festival has reached adolescence; it will continue to grow. We have to find the appropriate language, but also the means to help and support what it will become.’ Then the President of the Country spoke at this opening ceremony. Edouard Fritch reiterated how important it is for people of Oceania to unite as he did during COP 21 in Paris. ‘We must share our experiences. We must also show that Oceania exists and that it intends to be seen by the rest of the world!’ Communication is image-driven for the head of government and FIFO is as such a true mirror image of Oceania. ‘The festival makes this region of the world visible, it enables Oceanians to speak about their country in their own words.’

 

The importance of education

 

Professionalism and education are also at the heart of FIFO. ‘Festivalgoers are here to defend their films, but also to discuss, debate and learn. That’s the key to the success of FIFO’ confirmed Edouard Fritch. The representative of the State, Lionel Beffre, who then took his place in front of the forum, highlighted the pedagogical perspective and the event’s role in transmission. ‘The festival sheds light on history, culture and the environment…Important topics are addressed and shared with different generations.’ After perfectly reciting the however complicated name of the

Culture and Environment Minister, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, for which he was congratulated, the High-Commissioner highlighted the need to continue to hold the days devoted to school pupils as well as the workshops so as to discuss and transfer the wealth of the Pacific people and their environment to younger generations.