The inaugural Islands in the World Oceania International Film Festival (IWOIFF) will be hosted by the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji from 15-20 April 2013.
I talanoa with Festival Director playwright and filmmaker Larry Thomas about the Film Festival and he offers some advice to aspiring Pacific film-makers.
How did the Film Festival come about and what do you hope audiences will experience and take away from the festival?
There have been quite a number of film festivals in Fiji but the problem is sustaining it and to do this requires major support in terms of resources and funding and support from the international community of filmmakers and producers. Fiji National University have been organising film festivals for some time and credit should be given there.
Last year they organised a large one and hope to repeat it this year. We don’t want to replicate the FNU festival. The Islands in the World International Film Festival (IWOIFF) came about really for a number of reasons;
1. We have a public that loves going to the cinema but just loves watching films, period.
2. There have been many films made about the Pacific but hardly any from the point of view of Pacific Islanders themselves.
3. We have ‘technicians’ who are interested in the medium but often don’t have the exposure.
4. By having an international film festival here we hope to attract people working in the industry who can come here and share some of their experience and knowledge with our local filmmakers.
But to really answer your question, Dulcie, I hope audiences will experience and enjoy films that don’t often make it to the commercial cinema and see that that there is a huge variety of films that are fascinating and amazing and tell stories that we can learn form, be educated and be inspired.
The films shown are both documentaries and feature and I hope audiences will go away a little more broadminded and appreciative of the great films that will be shown but also to listen to filmmakers talk about their experiences in making their films. And I hope they will take much more, each person will of course take away something that no doubt they can relate to.
As a film maker yourself what challenges have you faced, and what advice would you have for aspiring Pacific film-makers?
There are many challenges and funding is just one of them. I think the biggest challenge is finding a supportive and conducive ‘community’ if I can call it that. People AND institutions who can appreciate and understand the passion of the filmmaker and provide that support.
The response will generally be, ‘yeah that’s a great idea, good luck, all the best’ and promptly change the subject to something else. We need to begin a ‘community’, of people who can appreciate and contribute productively and constructively to the passion of someone wanting to make films.
One way of building that is a film festival that can bring people and international filmmakers here to share and exchange ideas and provide moral support. There are no shortage of stories and technicians.
My advice to anyone out there wanting to make films, write plays, write a script etc., is to just go ahead and DO IT!! There are many excuses that can prevent us from doing what we want but if you have the determination and the passion then you can do it, no matter what!
15-20 April 2013
University of the South Pacific
Interview conducted via email 2 Apirl 2013.