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The FIFO comes of age

The fifteenth edition of the International Oceanian Documentary Film Festival ended on a high note with the traditional awards ceremony for the professionals, jury and guests. The public was able to take advantage of the last screenings up until 5 PM on Sunday. For the organizers, the result is positive. The FIFO gains in wisdom and reputation.

“At the first press conference I talked about the FIFO as if it were a teenager, I spoke of insolence; now, I think we can talk about resilience,” says Mareva Leu, General Delegate of the FIFO Association. The Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2018. On this occasion the selection, the choice of themes and the way these themes were addressed, showed a certain “confidence.” Mareva Leu adds: “we were fortunate to have films of great quality with a variety of subjects that were assumed.”

A resilient adolescent

“To a certain extent, we took risks in choosing a President of the Jury with a background in comedy, and in seeking the participation of Father Christophe as a member of the jury. We wanted to dare,” says Mareva Leu. “And, finally, everything went smoothly despite the conditions and that is why I now speak of resilience.” The adolescent has gained in wisdom.

The rain, the Festival’s surprise guest, posed logistical problems and played a role in the attendance. “The people were in the theatres, they did not linger in the village.” However, even if the number of entrees has not yet been released, the theatres were full throughout the week. “We have the feeling that the attendance was good. As a result, we are getting closer to our objectives of promoting and spreading awareness of Oceania.”

Success on all fronts

The workshops were also extremely successful. “They were very popular,” says Mareva Leu. “They are free programs, the only audiovisual workshops of the year and people enjoy them.” The new additions, the Short Film Workshop and the Writing Marathon offered to schoolchildren “transform the test.” The Writing Marathon gave seven students from two Polynesian schools the opportunity to try their hand at script writing. “They worked a ten-hour day with three coaches, which is one coach for two or three students,” says Mareva Leu.

The evenings also seduced the public. The 9th Night of the Fiction on Saturday, February 3, moved the spectators to tears. Fourteen films from three to eighteen minutes long were shown to a packed audience. Monday night, as a 2018 novelty, short documentaries were screened. “An estimated 500 spectators attended the evening, which is good for a day early in the week,” says Mareva Leu. “But I don’t know if we will continue this event that we named Window-on-short docs. All will depend on the films we receive.” In a way, Window-on-short docs imposed itself naturally, due to the very large number of short documentaries sent to the pre-selection committee.

The Festival has now ended, “but it isn’t finished,” says Mareva Leu with a smile. After a week of screenings followed by the announcement of the winners, it is time to take stock. “We will have the initial figures this week, which we will analyze to draw conclusions of what needs to be done, in order to do even better next year.

On the road with the FIFO

The Festival will then voyage. “During three months, the FIFO organizes screenings in thirteen Polynesian islands,” explains Mareva Leu. First stopovers: the Raromata’i (the Leeward Islands) in March. Then it will cross borders, direction: New Zealand, New Caledonia, Rapa Nui and France.