Informal Session: The Soul and the Image: The Story of Film in the Pacific
Organizer: Eliorah Malifa, Australian National University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
In addition, we are organizing an inaugural screening session called the Pacific Film Lab, which will take place on June 21st, the day before the ASAO meetings convene. This session is designed to bring together Pacific filmmakers who want to workshop developing work and receive feedback informed by various anthropological and ethnographic models, and interact with Pacific industry professionals with experience at all levels of film production, distribution and analysis in the Pacific and its wider diaspora. Participants of the Lab will ideally be prepared to screen a work-in-progress and discuss in 40-minute sessions. The Lab will end with a feature presentation and Q&A with special guest filmmaker in the evening. If you are a Pacific filmmaker and would like to participate in this session, please contact curator Eliorah Malifa - email@example.com.
Dionne Fonoti firstname.lastname@example.org
Eliorah Malifa email@example.com