Interview with Kalo Fainu from Pasifika Film Festival about diversity

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Q.1. Please tell us about Pasifika film festival’s aim?
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Pasifika Film Fest exists for a few different reasons. First, it is a platform for storytellers of Pacific & Maori heritage to share their films on the big. Our aim is to give filmmakers the opportunity to have their films seen by large audiences and gain exposure to mainstream media and industry. Secondly, it is about representation, or in fact, filling a gap where there has been a lack of representation of Pacific people in mainstream film and television. Lastly, it is a place for the community to take part in the wonderfully diverse cultures of Oceania. Where once stories were passed down by elders, PFF fits into perfectly into contemporary times by harnessing film as a means of sharing Pacific stories and creating a link to our island homes and cultures
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Q.2. Why did you start your festival?
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The festival began out of my own desire to have access to Pacific films. Through my studies in Media Arts and Production at UTS I embarked on a hunt for stories that I could relate to and that taught me something about my cultural heritage. The content was either difficult to find or unavailable in Australia and in fact there was no other film festival in the world (that I could find) that specifically celebrated the stories of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia in one place and on a large scale.
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Q.3. Do you think there’s enough diversity in film festivals across the board in Australia?
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I think the lack of diversity is exemplified more so across the mainstream film and television platforms. I actually think the range of diversity in film festivals in Australia is pretty good, which is why we need to exist. What film festivals do is support the smaller films, the unknown titles and the emerging filmmaker or actor. Festivals give screen time to the films that mainstream cinemas & prime time television usually don’t.

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Q.4. What excites you about your programme this year?
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So many things! I think what I get really excited about when I’m programming is the little extra’s PFF brings to a screening. PFF is very big on bringing more the just a film to the big screen, but delivering a unique experience to cinema lovers. From Q&A’s with filmmakers, to cultural performances and food samples inspired by Pacific cuisine, we really love to immerse the audience in the tastes, sounds, smells, people and cultures of Australia’s closest neighbours.

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Q.5. What’s one of your favourite films of all time (in your festival) and why?
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One of my favourites from last year was a film called KUMU HINA, a powerful film about the struggle to maintain Pacific Islander culture and values within the Westernized society of modern day Hawaiʻi. It is told through the lens of an extraordinary Native Hawaiian who is both a proud and confident māhū, or transgender woman, and an honored and respected kumu, or teacher.
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Q.6. When filmmakers are submitting their films, what do you look for and why?
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Films are selected for various reasons, is it engaging? Is it entertaining? Does it highlight an important issue that concerns Pacific communities? However the core of any film we screen is that it should have a good storyline. I’m less concerned about perfect cinematography (although it is always appreciated) and more focused on the story and the message and what the audience will take away from this screening.

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7. What direction would you like to see your festival go in the future?
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I think the natural direction of Pasifika Film Fest is that it will become a travelling film festival. Like our voyaging ancestors, I imagine that PFF will travel across Oceania, collecting and sharing stories audiences across the Pacific region and maybe even beyond. It has already started to materialise, with the upcoming installment of PFF heading to Brisbane in the week after Sydney and an international announcement about to be made very soon.

WWW.PASIFIKAFILMFEST.COM

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