Jacques Navarro highlights « the Pouvana’a case»

The documentary Pouvana’a, ni haine ni rancune by the film director Jacques Navarro-Rovira follows the historian Jean-Marc Regnault, and his the research work on the politician Pouvana’a a O’opa. For both of them, there is no longer any doubt, Pouvana’a was a victim of reason of State.

Jacques Navarro-Rovira was able to interview Polynesian politicians such as Oscar Temaru, Philippe Schyle as well as French politicians such as François Hollande, former President of the Republic. “It did not pose any problems, I did not encounter any obstacles in addressing the matter,” he assures us.

Accused of wanting to burn down Papeete

The subject is the path followed by a Polynesian politician, Pouvana’a a O’opa. Autonomist and Member of Parliament following the 1958 referendum, he campaigned against the establishment of the Fifth Republic and the French Community. Nicknamed Te Metua (the father), he was accused of wanting to burn down Papeete. He was arrested on 11 October 1958, tried, sentenced and exiled. The nation’s father was finally allowed to return to his homeland on 30 November 1968, eight years after his exile.

To cover the entire story, the filmmaker follows in the steps of the historian Jean-Marc Regnault. Well versed on the subject of Pouvana’a a O’opa, having studied the archives concerning him, Jean-Marc Regnault is the author of several books, the latest of which, Pouvana’a et de Gaulle, la candeur et la grandeur, was published in 2016 by ‘Api Édition.

The Metua’s innocence is evidenced by the fifty-five minutes of the documentary. “The written proof is there in black and white, as a great number of archives have been declassified in recent years. There is no longer any doubt.” Already at the time doubts had been raised. Jean-Baptiste Ceran-Jérusalémi who was not an ardent supporter of Pouvana’a a O’opa, wrote to Léopold Sédar Senghor that “if the Tahitians were determined to set fire to Papeete nothing nor anyone could have stopped them.” In his opinion, the attempted arson of which Pouvana’a a O’opa was accused was not valid.

To draw attention to the case

“In fact, this was a commission that I accepted because I am sensitive to this issue. It took me two years to complete it from the time the order was placed to the end of editing.” Although he says “he is a pure popa’a”, he also affirms that “he bears the weight of injustice done to Pouvana’a.” He says that he makes films dealing with the responsibilities of memory to “transmit messages to future generations.”

This is not the first time that the filmmaker presents a film at the FIFO. He has already won four prizes at this Festival (in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2017) and in 2015 was a member of the jury. His documentary is the only Polynesian film in competition and for him it is enough. “I do not expect a prize, the simple fact of being in the selection will draw attention to the subject.” That is the point behind the initiative.

Jacques Navarro-Rovira’s documentary does not pretend to change the course of history, but “will contribute to its rehabilitation.” A review process remains highly anticipated so that justice is done, “without hate or rancor.”

FIFO / Delphine Barrais