Informal Session: “The Soul and the Image”: The Story of Film in the Pacific
Organizers: Dionne Fonoti, Marina Alofagia McCartney, and Eliorah Malifa
In her seminal essay, “The Soul and the Image”, borrowed for this informal session's title, legendary Maori filmmaker Merata Mita (1996) acknowledges the power of the camera, where ""the fusion of physics and the human image put us in touch with ourselves and others in a way never before dreamed of"" (36). Mita reviews the history of film in Aotearoa in a discussion on how Maori and indigenous filmmakers can--and must, like Mita herself--transform Western cinema, ""for who knew if the soul were being tampered with, and for what purpose detrimental to a person's wellbeing the image would be used"" (37). Pacific Islanders have had to contend with film since the inception of film; first as viewers, then subjects, now practitioners, evolving along with the images that have been created by/for/about our cultures and people. Mita reminds us that images have souls, stories have power and film is a tool, so we invite participants to explore how film has developed around the region, if at all, and to what ends; from the introduction of cinema to our islands, to the current state of grassroots production industries to emerging trends in indigenous Pacific storytelling both within our island homes and from the wider diaspora.
Our first meeting in Auckland in 2019 went well and marked an exciting jump-off point for our session, as we endeavor to generate a body of writing that will advance the academic discourse on how Pacific Islanders use, make and see film. Paramount to our approach are participants who can, first and foremost, critically write about the issues as they see them, are connected to the community about which they are filming/writing/researching, and hope, like we do, to move academic assessments of Pacific cinema past celebratory historical traditionalism – we invite any participants who wish to contribute to this ongoing discussion to join us. We will continue as an Informal Session at the 2020 meeting in Hilo.
Reference: Mita, Merata. ""The Soul and the Image"", in Film in Aotearoa New Zealand, edited by Jonathan Dennis & Jan Bieringa, 36-54. Wellington, N.Z.: Victoria University Press, 1996.
Panelists: Dionne Fonoti, Marina McCartney, Eliorah Malifa, Mimi George and Heu’ionalani Wyeth, Micah van der Ryn, Vilsoni Hereniko, Martin Maden, Daniel Hernandez
Dionne Fonoti <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Marina Alofagia McCartney <email@example.com>
Eliorah Malifa <firstname.lastname@example.org>