FIFO 2019: a committed festival!

FIFO has come to an end. The prize-giving evening for this 16th festival took place on Friday 8th February. The documentary Anote’s Arck was awarded the FIFO France Télévisions Main Prize. Patutiki, l’art du tatouage des îles Marquises won the public prize; three special jury prizes were presented. Let’s take a look at the winners of this special edition.

When you read the press sometimes you have the impression that Oceania no longer exists, that with global warming our islands have disappeared. FIFO demonstrates perfectly that we are well and truly present in spite of everything. Thank you for this message that we are sending out together as the world would not be quite the same without Oceania’. Wallès Kotra is moved. Standing on the stage of Maison de la Culture’s Grand Theatre, the director of the French Overseas division of France Télévisions gives the last speech at this year’s emotionally charged festival. This 16th FIFO was characterised by the quality of the documentaries competing and the ever-increasing attendance of the public. All records have been beaten this year with 7,000 pupils and over 30,000 admissions. ‘You make the festival what it is; you enable it to continue to exist’. Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, minister of Culture, joined his friend Wallès on stage. These two men are responsible for creating FIFO. ‘Our baby has reached the grand old age of 16, the age of adolescence. We have been seeing each other for 16 years; we have been meeting and sharing our stories for 16 years. The time has come for this adolescent to stand on its own feet and we must support it. It is important that the public and professionals continue to support this festival by coming to FIFO’. Partly supported by the state, the representative of the High Commissioner is invited to join the fathers of FIFO on stage. Then there is a unique moment…The Minister of Culture’s young son also goes up onto the stage before the public. Suddenly he claps. The crowd laughs and there is applause. His dad has to make several attempts before managing to remove his son from the stage to which he already seems addicted.

Sharing cultures

The time has now come to present the different 2019 festival prizes. The prize for the writing marathon opens the ceremony. A member of the selection committee, Sophie Blanc, and a senior reporter at Polynésie la 1ère, Brigitte Olivier, are awarding this prize. This year the theme for the writing marathon was transmission. ‘We had eight very inspired scenarios. There was a great deal of imagination and creativity, but one stood out’. Brigitte Olivier announces this year’s overall winner as well as something new: in addition to the usual prizes, the Tahitian Association of Audiovisuel Professionals is offering the winner the opportunity to make a short film based on the imagined scenario. Vairoa by Itia Prillard wins the prize. Before moving on to the documentaries, two other prizes from the fringe evenings are awarded: short fiction and short film. Undiscovered Country by Tyson Mowarin was voted best short fiction by the public and Aprila by Roha Radheya for the best short film. The moment we’ve all been waiting for is here…but the chairman of the jury would just like to say a few words. ‘I would like to thank the members of the jury as we have had hours of serious discussion. There has been a great deal of debate and exchange of views. I learnt a lot about everyone’s cultures. Thanks for sharing it with me’.


Gabrielle Brady awards the first special jury prize to Island of the Hungry Ghosts. ‘It wasn’t unanimous among the jury but this film is characterised by great subtlety, it’s really very good. It talks about and questions the migration crisis. I would like to congratulate the directors for it is far removed from television slots and chasing ratings’, emphasises the member of the jury Jacques Ollivier awarding this prize. As the director is absent, Pierre Olivier a figurehead of FIFO receives it. Tiare Trompette awards the second special jury prize. ‘I am touched this evening as many things attracted my attention at FIFO this year. We were moved by your stories. Thank you!’ With quite a shaky voice, this great cultural figure announces the winner: Au nom du père, du fils et des esprits. Applause resonates. The son of Jean-Marie Tjibaou, portrayed in the film, goes up onto the stage to receive this special prize. He is moved too and lost for words ‘Thank you, mäuruuru!’ he says simply before letting out a cry of joy and victory before leaving the stage. It is a very emotional moment. Lastly, the third special prize is for Gurrumul by Paul Damien Williams. The announcement in Maori by the member of the jury Line Ferrer generates thunderous applause in the room.

Raising an alarm

The Public Prize is an important prize, for some even more than the Main Prize. It is eagerly awaited each year. ‘This is my first visit to Tahiti and your stories filled my heart. This evening the public is awarding two directors who introduced us to a culture and an art’, launches the member of the jury Malinda Wink, who is awarding this prize. Not surprisingly in view of the full screenings, Patutiki, l’art du tatouage des îles Marquises, wins the public prize. ‘Thank you to everyone! Thank you to those who made this film possible. Thank you to FIFO. Seven years ago at a FIFO workshop I was introduced to a camera. Two years ago we pitched our film at FIFO. Now we have won the public prize! It’s unbelievable!’ confides a moved Heretu Teahiotupa before launching into a haka dance with two Marquesans who have got up from their seats. The Grand Theatre is pulsating… Lastly, the time has come… The chairman of the jury, Carl Aderlhod, takes to the stage next to Wallès Kotra and Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, to announce the main winner. Anote’s Ark wins the FIFO France Télévisions 2019 Main Prize. This documentary describes the battle of the President of Kiribati for the islands are in danger of disappearing as a result of rising sea levels. ‘The jury hopes that awarding this film will lead to action and raise awareness’. The FIFO jury seems to have wanted to raise an alarm regarding the future of the islands of Oceania. A committed FIFO 2019! The next FIFO will take place from 1
st to 9th February 2020.

FIFO – Suliane Favennec