FIFO serves to alert and shakes up the audiovisual sector

FIFO’s selection of films has, as always, shocked, amazed and delighted audiences, as well as made them cry and laugh. The films have called out to hearts and minds. FIFO also impacts the audiovisual economy with workshops, conferences, debates and the Pacific Television Conference.

Like every year, the FIFO week goes quicker than all other weeks of the year… Almost 30,000 people flocked to the darkened rooms in the Maison de la culture, as well as to workshops, round tables and conferences. The general public and professionals have turned FIFO into a significant cultural event in Oceania. Many amateurs attended workshops such as scriptwriting, 3D animation, audio dubbing, TV reportage and video editing each day, to gain exposure to or to improve all these audiovisual techniques. ‘It reflects the public interest in audiovisual professions. It’s both encouraging and reassuring as it shows that we were right to provide these workshops’, explains Mareva Leu, general delegate of AFIFO. They also enable participants to meet the industry professionals delivering these lessons with great enthusiasm. ‘They are all willing to share and pass on their knowledge.’ Vocations are born here in these workshops. Director Toarii Pouira who runs the 3D workshop, did his first scriptwriting workshop here at FIFO. Others have participated in these lessons then went abroad to train before coming back to present documentaries at the festival. ‘It was one of the aims of FIFO from the start: to generate public interest in these professions and encourage professions! ‘It’s a shame that there is no diploma course in Tahiti for these professions. Locally available training would fuel the industry.

Audiences were also spoilt with a selection that was, as always, rich and amazing. Incidentally, the audience was somewhat in agreement with the jury this year as one film was awarded twice: The Australian Dream directed by Daniel Gordon, received the second Special Jury Prize and the Public Prize. That is only the third time it has happened since the festival began. ‘15 years ago, the offering was more educational but now, they are strong, investigative documentaries. Spectators are now connoisseurs. Both professionals and the general public are really studying the documentaries’, analyses Mareva Leu. Meetings on the paepae a Hiro or in the large marquee have also allowed great discussions about the films to take place between spectators and professionals. In fact, there were many more professionals than in previous years. Some were invited by the festival, but others funded their own visits and this year many did so. Twenty or so international professionals attended. ‘FIFO is now a significant and leading event in Oceania.’

Many attended the round tables, conferences and Pacific Television Conference. Indeed the 14th conference gathered many professionals from countries in Oceania, the event is a popular among them. It is also an opportunity to alert or launch appeals like this year when a document was signed calling for the creation of a regional support fund for audiovisual creation and production in Oceania. Gathering specialists together enables the industry to be developed and revitalised. ‘Many things have been announced at FIFO and they have indeed been implemented’, assures Mareva Leu. It’s not just about meeting but also about acting. This verb ‘act’ also seems to be the future of FIFO. Documentaries have always been socially engaged and illustrative of injustice and prejudice, but the influx of social impact documentary marks a new stage. Social impact documentary is a valuable teaching, political (for city life) and active tool. A lever for social, economic and environmental change. Film is adapted to lessons, communication materials and web platforms. It is accompanied by a real campaign, sometimes over several years, to build on the message it is sending.  ‘Good Pitch’ enables people to be sourced in the community, capable of supporting the creation and production of this type of documentary, whether financial or networking. A Good Pitch Tahiti will be held at FIFO 2021 next year incidentally. ‘Social impact documentary will integrate the festival in an even more committed dynamic. Especially as Oceania is at the heart of 21st century environmental and societal challenges. And then it’s great to participate for causes, to support communities. We need to traverse our history and all possible means are good,’ explains Mareva Leu. Roll on next year!

Lucie Rabréaud/ FIFO 2020