Saturday, January 30, 2010

Found in paradise!

Well – I (Lyn) have been in Tahiti a week and it seems like I arrived yesterday

I’m currently sitting in my hotel room with the sliding door to the balcony open, listening to the traffic on the motorway, the barking of dogs, the clucking of chickens and the tweeting of tropical birds in the trees below. Papeete is very much a product of its parts – French, Polynesian, some other cultures, in ways that I can’t pretend to understand, but the whole is somehow quite familiar. This might be in part because I’ve been here before (albeit nearly 20 years ago) but it’s also because Polynesia has its own flavour, elements in common with New Zealand and with Takuu. The chickens would be a big part of island life, but also the language, the tattoo traditions (to my eye the new Tahitian styles are most beautiful of any), the sea at the door. The sashimi is plentiful and mostly pretty good…not a New Zealand tradition per se but thanks to Ken’s Yakitori on K-Road, extremely reminiscence of home nevertheless.

The festival provides unparalleled hospitality to guests and filmmakers – Gallic grace meets Polynesian honour perhaps. We were initially taken to Moorea (a neighbouring island) for the day, went swimming with sharks and rays (not my favourite) and ate incredible poisson cru (tuna sashimi salad with lime juice marinade and coconut cream) on a small private island. The whole experience formed an initial time for filmmakers and press to bond and get to know each other in a really relaxed natural way and was a fantastic start to the week.

Every night we’ve been here, there have been cocktails – at the hotel, the president’s “office”, the High commissioners home and culminating last night in a sit-down dinner at the Hotel de Ville – the town hall. Of course I damaged my fancy shoes (borrowed from my sister) the second night and have been reduced to wearing sandals ever since, but Tahiti is a pretty relaxed kind of place so its ok. I’m just sad not to have them for the big prize-giving ceremony tonight. The attention the film has received has been such that I’m hopeful we might pick something up.

Generally speaking it’s been a big six days – TOWAI’s screening run is over now but the feedback from people on the selection panel and from the press has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve received interest from a European distributor as well as generous comments from other filmmakers and the audience reactions have been enthusiastic. I’ve been able to do more publicity than I anticipated and some of what has been done is getting picked up by other media outlets – which is just wonderful.

With representatives from ITVS, large productions companies in Australia and independent programmers, producers and directors from all over the Pacific region, FIFO is actually not a bad place to network, which is a bonus. The festival has just started a pitching forum this year and this looks set to help Pacific filmmakers develop their contacts and skills as well as offering anyone from further afield a chance to get some attention for their projects.

On balance FIFO has also run a very successful bilingual event with dialogue between French and English parts of the Pacific made possible by bilingual subtitling on all competition films, selective translation at events, the presence of bilingual press and FIFO organisers and the efforts of a surprisingly large number of New Zealand, American and Australian filmmakers with “un peu de franglais” stringing some sentences together when required. Given the physical distance and variation within the Pacific region, a coming together of many of the different parts in one place for a cultural event like this is rare and it’s great to experience a flow of information between the francophone and anglophone elements.

I leave tomorrow and I can hardly believe that the time has slipped away so fast. I haven’t seen nearly enough of the country and of course I want to come back – Tahiti is a perfect place to slip into island time and to think about all the best ways to about set the world to rights. It hasn’t been a holiday, but certainly a welcome change of pace.

For a link to an interview I did yesterday on ABC’s Pacific Beat and ran out of time to blog about go here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Press update and pics

Slight update - I (as in Lyn) will be doing a live interview tomorrow on Radio Australia's Pacific Beat, so if you're in the mood, feel free to listen in (I've got stage fright already).

In the meantime here are some snaps from last night's premiere, the cocktail party in the garden of the French Polynesian "Presidence" the palatial office of the President, and one of Papeete from the main harbour area which is very near the Maison de la Culture where the festival is running. The person in the foreground of the last shot is Joy-Marie Scott who is on the jury!

Coming to you from FIFO in Tahiti

Apologies to anyone who has been eagerly awaiting an update from the Pacific. I've been here at the FIFO festival in Tahiti for three days so far and its been pretty amazing. The festival staff look after everyone really well and the accommodation is great - although not without its foibles. The second day I moved to a room with working internet (my own being unfixable), only to be woken up in the middle of the night by the safe in the new room beeping, and having to move rooms again....I am the queen of small dramas.

Now to the matter at hand...we've had three screenings of the film so far, and it seems to have been well-received despite some technical difficulties. We had a full house this morning and very respectable audiences for the two evening screenings last night. The final screening is the jury screening on Friday (Saturday NZ time) at 8am but this is not as early as it sounds in Tahiti. I'm hopeful that the technical issues will be well resolved by then and that our audiences so far have been able to see past these to the heart of the story.

In the meantime I have been delighted to do interviews with ICA TV, RFO and the French ABC radio service. If you get French news in the Pacific, look out for these - you'll be able to hear me in translation. The press and publicity have been well-organised and the festival itself has a high profile in Tahiti so we've been fortunate to have this much attention to the story - long may it continue.

If you haven't visited our website recently you should head on over to and have a look at our updated effort. You can now make a donation to the island via paypal if you go to Any money will go direct to the Council of Elders on Takuu for projects they nominate.

More later.....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The big update!!!

Well - those of you still following the blog and wondering what has become of us will be delighted to hear that, as I write, the film is nearly finished and we have our world premiere at the FIFO festival in Tahiti on January 26. We're in competition in this festival which is really exciting. Lyn will be attending the premiere and prize-giving as Briar is now studying full-time at Stanford University and won't be able to get there.

Our US premiere is soon after on February 15th at the Big Sky Film Festival, an increasingly recognised event in Montana. There Once was an Island is also in competition there for "Best Feature" and Briar will be attending this as it's in her neck of the woods.

We will be twittering from FIFO onwards and will let you know all about the festival experience as it happens. Unfortunately we can't advise on New Zealand screenings yet but stay posted.