Carl Aderlhod: ‘We wanted to mark the occasion’

Carl Aderlhod is chairman of the jury for FIFO 2019. We asked him a few questions about his first festival and visit to Oceania.

Why did you choose Anote’s Ark as the Main Prize winner?

It seemed a good way of making FIFO’s message clear. As Wallès Kotra said without Oceania the world would be different and missing a vital component. The idea was to show and express this. What really struck us is that a small archipelago, in a completely isolated place, is a victim of global warming. As the President of the island says in the film, we are more concerned with saving polar bears than the inhabitants of Kiribati. We therefore wanted to make a point.

Do you think that a film can change things?

It gives the film greater visibility at any rate and lets more people see it. Ultimately, we don’t want anyone to be able to say: we didn’t know. That is extremely important to us. I think that FIFO’s Main Prize enables this.

Is it a political choice in a way?

It could be seen as one yes. But what stands out is that this theme featured several times among the thirteen films in competition and seems very topical. We have something tangible and human in the accounts. Ultimately we want one thing and that is to engage with them.

Identity is important in FIFO’s films, but you say that it is perceived differently in Oceania than in France?

Yes that’s true. Identity in France is a notion based on fear and rejection by others. What marked me here, and it’s a real discovery, is that claims to identity did not exclude others but were a way of meeting. Identity in this way is inspirational; I want to share it.

Paul Damien Williams: ‘It’s a special prize for a special man

Paul Damien Williams won a Special Jury Prize for his film Gurrumul. This documentary portrays Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, an artist admired by his community and famous in Australia who died in 2017. It portrays the voice of an extraordinary man of few words who was born blind.

The chairman admitted that you were not far off the Main Prize. How do you feel?

It’s good to know that we were very close… But receiving the Special Jury Prize means a great deal to us, especially here at FIFO. It’s an incredible festival. I have producer friends who pushed me to come to this festival and I’m far from disappointed, it was fantastic.

Did you feel that your film was popular with the public?

Yes, but the other films too. You can feel that people are interested and curious. They weren’t coming to see just one film but several. It was really magnificent. I think that the festival organisers should be congratulated for their work. My film has travelled the world in major festivals in Berlin, Washington, Canada, etc. But I had a blast here!

Is it important for you and Gurrumul, who is deceased, to have this prize?

Yes, it’s very special. Especially as we belong to the region of Oceania and this prize is part of a festival dedicated to this region. It’s a special prize for a special man. It’s a wonderful tribute, quite a legacy. Everyone in the community will be so delighted to hear the news.

Christophe Cordelier and Heretu Tetahiotupa

Patutiki, l’art du tatouage des îles Marquises won the public prize. It’s a wonderful tribute to this culture and this Marquesan art for the two directors Christophe Cordelier and Heretu Tetahiotupa.

The public voted for your film – how do you feel?

Heretu Teahiotupa: It is a huge honour for the Marquesas Islands, Marquesan culture and us.

Christophe Cordelier: We wanted to pay tribute to the Marquesas Islands and that has been achieved. We are very honoured. It’s a wonderful surprise and honour.

What does this prize mean for the Marquesas Islands?

Heretu Teahiotupa: I’m proud to be Marquesan.

Christophe Cordelier: It’s the first time that a film has been screened in Marquesan, in some ways that must have resonated among the audience. This audience showed that there was real anticipation: to celebrate the Marquesas Islands. To view Marquesan elders and the overall culture in pride of place, not only tattooing. Yes I think that the Marquesas Islands are proud.

This is your first film, your first production, what will you take away from this adventure?

Heretu Tetahiotupa: You can have dreams, try hard to make them happen and see it through to the end. It was the time of my life. It was an incredible experience, and working with Christophe was really amazing, there was a real symbiosis.

Emmanuel Tjibaou: ‘My father and the elders are in my thoughts’

Au nom du père, du fils et des esprits won the special jury prize at FIFO 2019. This documentary was a great hit with the audience. Emmanuel portrays his father Jean Marie Tjibaou, a major Kanak politician murdered in 1989. The son examines his childhood memories, his family, those who knew him, friends and fellow travellers. With sensitivity de depicts the importance of his father’s struggle promoting Kanak culture and identity, as well as his role in the recent history of contemporary Caledonia.

You’ve just been awarded the Special Jury Prize, what does that mean to you?

From a personal perspective it was moving to receive this prize. I was part of the jury before, now the tables have turned. I know the whole debate, both for and against. The story itself is interesting as it takes place in Tahiti. Awarding it here gives it a life here and throughout the Oceanic network. Of course my thoughts are also with the two directors who were not able to come, we took almost four years to make this film. Now it has been unanimously welcomed!

When you received the prize, you got an ovation, that’s a great tribute isn’t it?

Yes that’s why I couldn’t speak. I was overcome by emotion. I was thinking about my father as well as all the others, as it’s the story of all leaders, Pouvanaa, all the major figures who stood up. It’s a legacy that fades over time but deserves consideration and something that we should all remember is that you can’t buy dignity.

Is this prize significant for these struggles? 

Yes but also for France. Here, we’re talking about French colonization. I felt the need to make this film, as in my opinion there are very few publications, books or documentaries about us, and how we were bullied and humiliated. I also wanted to make this film to provide this perspective. My father was ten when Indigenous Status stopped. It stopped in writing but it continued in reality. It is also a testimony of these stories that must not be forgotten. If we forget, we may have to relive it. I hope that my son will not be subjected to what I, my father and grandfather have suffered.

FIFO – Suliane Favennec