Positive results of FIFO 2016
Co-creator of FIFO and chairman of the FIFO association, Wallès Kotra puts a positive spin on the 2016 festival. This 13th FIFO has conveyed universal messages full of humanity.
How would you assess FIFO 2016?
We are very happy. The public turned up in their droves and virtually all the rooms were full. FIFO is at last a popular festival for grandmothers as well as the young etc. It’s very important to keep this spirit. This FIFO has also brought things to light. We urgently need to think about the digital world. FIFO works very well now, but we need to consider the future. Digital has an exceptional take-up rate. It’s something that we do not totally control. We therefore have to make sure that FIFO’s essence, its fight to ‘share our stories and defend what is taking place around us,’ can be adapted to the digital world. But how do we make sure this network conveys what we are?
Do you already have some options for action?
We have planned to have a discussion seminar. We must listen to the specialists. We must tackle this point with seriousness as well as modesty. Even if FIFO’s priority is to tell our stories ourselves, we have to offer a variety adapting to today’s tools. Digital is something that we do not control for the moment. There are new players and a new culture. We should be capable of adapting what we are and our content. But I am optimistic as ultimately it has been like that for thousands of years on our islands: we have managed previous changes, the advent of television, big ships etc. We have remained grounded each time.
This year, many films in competition dealt with humanity…
Yes. In fact, these are human stories. We have had Samoa football teams and elderly people who start hip-hop… What is interesting in our stories is their universal nature. These films can be broadcast in Europe or in Asia; the message is the same.
The chairman of the jury at this year’s FIFO is a great African filmmaker. What did he bring to FIFO?
Abderrahmane Sissako is doubly distinctive. First of all, yes, he’s a great filmmaker, an international filmmaker. Then, there is his view of Africa. He comes and says: ’what you’re doing here is very important. Be careful as Europe and Africa have lost that.’ Abderrahmane Sissako brought a great deal to the festival. He discussed with the public after the screening of his film, in the street, anywhere really. For him, we are singing about our culture, and a population that sings is a population that can address developments. I think he saw a lot of humanity in our people.
‘A desire to open to towards other cultures’
Marie Kops is the organiser of FIFO 2016. Let’s hear a little more about this year’s festival. Interview.
How do you assess FIFO 2016?
It was positive. Public attendance was very high and three days were sold out! The public seemed to be delighted with the screenings and the films selected. There were also some fantastic people to meet, many directors, as well as many discussions and workshops and new experiences like the writing marathon.
This day seems successful?
Yes. There were ten partakers. They all enjoyed it, as did the mentors. I think that we should do it again next year. This new format had great appeal. Perhaps though it should be at the weekend so that more people are available.
This year, you chose a great African filmmaker to be chairman of the jury. That’s a first for FIFO…
Yes and this is significant for FIFO. Having Abderrahmane Sissako here was a window, sensitiveness and an opening for us. It’s turning point for our festival, this shows our desire to open towards other cultures and the importance of making people come with this perspective, this sensitivity towards our cultures, our documentaries from the region. I think that Abderrahmane Sissako was very moved by these people. That is also FIFO’s strength: this humanity, this welcome, this simplicity in the relationships between festivalgoers, the organisers and the public.
What are your thoughts on the prize list?
We had many productions from New Zealand: three prizes for this country and the Grand Prize for Australia. Ultimately it reflects the selection. There was great diversity in terms of the themes, opposed to last year where the trend was more feminine. Like last year, FIFO is focused on the population of the Pacific. Each year the human side is highlighted: portraits, characters, fights and struggles. This year is no exception to the rule.
The symposium and discussions seem to have been based around the question of the digital revolution?
FIFO raises the question of the shift to digital. It may be an asset for regional development but there is also apprehension about being drowned in global content. This year, we had the opportunity to welcome Eric Scherer who came to give us a vision and to share it. FIFO needs to keep abreast of changes, to see what happens. The audiovisual world is changing. The means of modes of distribution and consumption are changing but also the content. It’s important that FIFO talks about it and discusses it with different countries in Oceania to see how it is going for them.
Have you already thought about the next FIFO?
This one has barely finished, but yes we are already thinking about the next one even if there are many things still to do regarding this one, like visiting the islands etc. Let’s just say we have possibilities for members of the jury, I’ll say no more!