The Pasifika Film Fest (PFF), which has brought a slice of paradise and pacific island culture to the silver screen, goes on sale this week in Sydney. In its third year on the circuit, PFF are this year also heading interstate as well as overseas, due to the growth in requests from within the industry & local communities.
Announcing the celebration of content from talented filmmakers, the festival organisers have confirmed it will be run at Event Cinemas in Parramatta and Campbelltown from 2 nd - 6 th November. The schedule also now includes Brisbane from the10 th -13 th November in both Garden City & Loganholme Event Cinemas. The excitement continues with the festival continuing to New Zealand early next year signaling the increasing demand in support of the arts of Pacific nations.
The festival showcases content representing a variety of aspects of Pacific life both traditional and modern, the storytelling uniquely expressed through the eyes of talented creatives from across Oceania.
A first-time addition to the even t is the Pasifika Pitch Fest. This competition to pitch ideas is an open invitation to anyone with engaging island stories that can be developed into a short film. PFF have created this initiative with the aim of discovering and providing support to the next up and coming Pasifika talent.
Pasifika Film Fest Founder and Director Ms Kalo Fainu said, “The festival exists as a platform for storytellers of Pacific & Maori heritage to share their films on the big screen and have the opportunity to have their art seen by large audiences. The PFF initiative is a place for the community to celebrate & take part in the diverse cultures of Oceania”.
The 5 day event wil l feature stories such as Blackbird, a poignant film by Amie Batalibasi inspired by the untold story of Australia’s Pacific Islander sugar slaves in the late 1800s. Being Bruno Banani tells the unique ‘Cool Runnings’ story of the first and only Tongan Luger who managed to qualify in an amazingly short amount of time for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Bruno ‘the flying coconut’ will join Sydney audiences for the Australian Premiere on Opening Night to share more of his incredible journey in a post-screening Q&A session.
Other big titles i nc lude POI E: The Story of Our Song, which became only the third NZ documentary to reach the $1m milestone at the NZ box office. After its 1984 debut, Poi E reached No 1 and remained in the charts for 34 wee ks, out-selling Michael Jackson's Thriller. The documentary-drama Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses, is a film that lifts the veil of secrecy on what became known as “The Wainuiomata exorcism” to reveal the extraordinary true story of how a combination of love and fear drove a New Zealand family to unwittingly kill one of their own.
Closing out the festival is Mercenary, the story of a young man of Wallisan origin who is scouted, purely for his Pacific Island genetics, to play Rugby in France, only to discover there is a price to be paid for success. The film will be complemented by the appearance of ex-NRL professional athlete Sione Faumuina who will share some of his own story which is detailed in his soon-to-be-released book, The Second Phase.
Sione pulls no punches, unveiling his own shortcomings for all to see, whilst also shedding light on aspects of rugby league which reveal the code's struggles with the new professionalism, and its failure to confront issues surrounding the emergence of a tsunami of Polynesian talent.
Statistics show that in NRL, 44% are of Pacific Islander descent. Mercenary touches on the cultural and emotional disconnect players of Pacific heritage may experience and unveils the cold truth behind the road to success.
An individual highly involved in the Pacific community is NRL Welfare and Education Manager and Festival Co-Director Nigel Vagana. He adds, “Once stories were passed down by elders. We fit perfectly into contemporary times by harnessing film as a means of sharing Pacific stories and creating a link to our island homes and cultures by encouraging those with talent to step forward knowing there will be a pathway for their stories to be uncovered and continued”.
It is this success in execution that sees the festival supported and highly anticipated by Pacific Island audiences both in Australia and abroad.