Motu Haka is a documentary about the struggle to defend the Marquesan’s cultural heritage. In this film, selected for the 20th edition of the FIFO, the elder’s words resonate alongside those of the young. Their message is a strong and universal one. 

Meeting with the film team:

This intense encounter began with a Marquesan song that resonated throughout our walls: It was the opening song for the Inside the Doc at this 20th edition of the FIFO, when on the first day of encounters, the characters of the film Motu Haka gathered under the pae pae a Hiro at the Maison de la Culture. This competing documentary, tells of the struggle of both the elder and younger generations to safeguard and enhance the culture of their land, their archipelago. The Marquesan culture has been crushed and trampled for decades by the colonists: Tattooing, dancing, the language… nothing was spared. This film with its strong testimonies carries the power of the Marquesan’s’ words enhanced and magnified by the beauty of the images. 

It all began when the film’s director fell in love with these islands, he discovered them about ten years ago during the making of the programme Des racines et des ailes. “I gained a better understanding of the world I was living in and the history of this archipelago, I realized its strength, its history and I discovered a universal truth … The message of the Marquesas must be transmitted to all the peoples of the world because their story is one that everyone can recognize”, confides Raynald Mérienne who has endeavoured to bring together both the elders and younger generations in his film.

Ongoing Transmission

This documentary is first of all the story of a meeting with the members of the association Motu Haka. In Marquesan Motu Haka means gathering. These words were not chosen at random… ” We had a desire to get together and move forward together. At the beginning, we created this association to safeguard the Marquesan language and heritage and everything related to it. On each island, people had faith in our cultural actions and so we continued. We are here to awaken and bring others to awareness,” explains Debora Kimitete. Together with Toti and Ben, they fought to reclaim their culture, to be able to speak Marquesan in school, and found the renowned Marquesas Islands Matavaa festival of the arts. Today, they are relieved, for the next generation is at hand. 

For the last 20 years, Pascal Erhel Hatuuku has been helping to promote and showcase his archipelago to both local and international visitors; he has had to (re)learn his culture, his language and his heritage: a difficult learning process that is far from over. “I continue to nourish myself because I want to continue the transmission. It’s clear,” says the man sitting next to Heretu. The young man carries his culture with him; co-director of Patutiki, the art of tattooing, which won the Audience Award at the FIFO 2019, Heretu continues the fight for knowledge, his heritage and his identity. He leads the fight with strength but in all humility. “Everything that we achieve today we owe to the people who started all this, they provided the tools for transmission and we continue their work. Motu Haka is a documentary film that had to come into being because it carries a message and a living memory.

Suliane Favennec – FIFO