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A committed and bold FIFO

This 16th FIFO gave rise to much discussion thanks to a rich and varied programme. Large audiences attended the screenings, as well as the meetings organised with directors, workshops and evenings dedicated to shorts.

On the Grand theatre stage on Friday evening, Heretu Tetahiotupa, co-director of the Public Prize winning film Patutiki, comments emotionally that ‘He touched a camera for the first time in a film workshop at FIFO.’ His film was one of this festival’s key successes: ‘The directors hadn’t talked about it much before FIFO, wanting to keep an element of surprise and that worked really well’, explains Mareva Leu, general delegate of the FIFO association. Public enthusiasm was tangible throughout the week. The projection rooms were crowded with over 7,000 pupils coming to the Maison de la culture for the event. As is the case every year, the fiction shorts and documentary evenings were full and the workshops were popular. ‘Feedback has been very good, the classics – scriptwriting and editing –are always popular, and the three new ones on offer were well-received, in particular the audio dubbing one that looked legendary!’ adds Mareva Leu.

Good Pitch Pasifika was launched at this 16th FIFO, the aim of which is to promote documentaries poised for social and environmental impact. ‘The impact workshop was full’, beams Mareva Leu, ‘delighted about this initiative supporting meaningful projects. The Oceanic Television Conference was also a success, she emphasises: ‘The theme (digital, an opportunity for documentary) was interesting and stimulated debate. Participants established links and left with many ideas.’

Unique selection generates discussion

The documentaries generated much discussion in the comings and goings around the Maison de la culture. ‘The selection of films draws people in. The films make them come above all and that’s thanks to the work of the selection committee watching over 200 documentaries and picking out the best,’ recognises Afifo’s general delegate. The jury and the public appeared to agree on this subject, in particular regarding the winner of the Special Jury Prize, Gurrumul, the portrait of an Australian Aboriginal artist whose exceptional voice enchanted Australia and transcended borders. ‘In the film the emotion is fitting, observed Mareva Leu. She was ‘proud that FIFO awarded the high-flying Island of the Hungry Ghosts. It’s an artistic choice in the truest sense’. This very cinematographic documentary immerses us into the heart of Christmas Island where there is an Australian detention centre, with an at times stifling atmosphere, where more care is taken of crabs than human beings. It sparked rejection as well as admiration, also generating debate, as is the aim of the festival. The public was moreover eager judging by the success of the meetings with directors and producers. ‘There were many people and the discussions were interesting; the invited directors had many things to say: anecdotes, stories and a vision to share’, declares Mareva Leu. Delighted with the hospitality that they received, they didn’t want to leave at the end of the week. But all the best things come to an end, FIFO will continue off-site in the islands and the Pacific, starting with Vanuatu. Let’s meet back here in February 2020 for the 17th FIFO!

FIFO – Elodie Largenton