OCEANIA DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL - 2007
ANZACS TRIUMPH IN TAHITI
Amazing stories from Australia and New Zealand triumph at the 4th Oceania
Documentary Film Festival in Tahiti. By a Special Correspondent in Tahiti.
Australian and New Zealand filmmakers have carried off the top prizes at the
International Documentary Film Festival of Oceania (FIFO) in Tahiti, held last
week. Kiwi Dan Salmon’s Made in Taiwan won both the Grand Jury Prize and the
People’s Choice Award. Australian Catriona McKenzie’s Mr Patterns won the first
special jury prize.
"in its fourth year."
More than a hundred documentaries were entered by filmmakers from around the
Pacific for the five-day festival (30 January-3 February) which is in its fourth
Made in Taiwan is a quirky journey film following two men of Polynesian descent
who, with the help of DNA tests, discover their roots stretching back tens of
thousands of years. Salmon filmed their journey from New Zealand to the Cook
Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu and finally to Taiwan where they find links to an Asian
The film itself was an epic journey, taking 20 years to find a backer. Producer
George Andrews had pitched the idea repeatedly after controversial academic
theories about the Polynesian links with Taiwan were canvassed publicly.
Eventually, the film was commissioned and screened last year by TV3 in New
Zealand, partly because encouraged by the central figures in the film – writers
and NZ television personalities Oscar Kightley and Nathan Rarare. Samoan-born
Kightley has recently grabbed attention for his role in Sione’s Wedding and as
the creator of the sitcom Brotown.
“They tell the story through their eyes and it’s a journey that so many people
of the Pacific understand,” Salmon said in Papeete where the film was screened
with 38 others. “It replicates their ancestors’ journey in reverse.”
The story of Geoff Bardon, the teacher who triggered the renowned Western Desert
art movement by showing Aborigines at Papunya Tula in the 1970s how to paint
using western techniques, is the subject of McKenzie’s documentary which also
won the Hawaiian International Film Festival Award last year.
"tapped into people’s emotions"
“The film really tapped into people’s emotions,” McKenzie said of the
thousands of local French Polynesians who flocked to see the film in a downtown
theatre complex. “They were trying to understand why the Aborigines had such a
shocking time and lived in appalling conditions. Their artwork was a window to
McKenzie’s documentary includes the last interview given by Geoff Bardon, whose
health was irreparably damaged by the controversial deep sleep treatments he was
given at Sydney’s Chelmsford Hospital after he left Papunya Tula suffering from
depression. He died when Mr Patterns was in pilot stage in 2003.
The award caps off a great year for the Sydney filmmaker who won a host of AFI
awards for her drama series Remote Area Nurse.
Salmon and McKenzie were competing with 16 other films in competition including
the glossy Film Australia production The Floating Brothel and Rolf de Heer’s The
Balanda and the Bark Canoes, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the
highly acclaimed Ten Canoes. A New Caledonian film by Gilles Dagneau, Tjibaou Le
Pardon won the second special jury prize.
Among the jurists were Emmanuel Priou, whose documentary March of the Penguins
won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year, independent Australian producer
Jennifer Cummins, and the director of the new Paris indigenous Museum of Branly
Quay, Stephane Martin.
Published February 8, 2007
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Dan Salmon – Made in Taiwan
Catriona McKenzie – Mr Patterns