Celebrate unique cultures at the Pasifika Film Fest 2020

Pasifika Film Fest 2020

Celebrate unique cultures at the Pasifika Film Fest 2020

Beginning as an idea between university friends Kalo and Ellie, the Pasifika Film Fest 2020 is a valuable platform for Pasifika filmmakers and creators to share their unique stories.

“We need more representation,” says founder Kalo.

“People from Pacific communities need to be able to find stories that they can relate to and see people and stories that they can identify with.”

In 2013, the first festival took place in a small creative warehouse in Marrickville. Seven years later the festival is being shown not only in Australia, the Pacific Islands and the US, but also on a global online platform.

“[The Pasifika Film Fest] came from a need to source and see more content that represented our communities and people that looked like us and stories we could relate to,” says Kalo.

“[It came from] a personal desire to want to find these things and then a much bigger desire to share it with the broader community, younger people and future generations.”

Kalo says that Pacific Islanders have a traditional storytelling that is mostly verbal, and that by using the medium of film, stories, myths, languages and cultures can be passed down through an expansive digital platform – something that is invaluable to the Pasifika community, particularly in Australia.

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Papua New Guinean filmmaker Alana Hicks, whose film ‘Chicken’ will be featuring in the PFF this year says that the festival has developed her filmmaking skills by giving her the opportunity to express her cultural identity and connect to a larger audience.

“At the very first Pasifika Film Festival some years ago, festival director Kalolaine screened a short documentary I had made with absolutely no budget, featuring my mother and aunties telling stories in their own language, with no English subtitles,” she recalls.

“This year PFF will screen a short film that has greater production value, a better script, and a much stronger cast (sorry mum) and I couldn’t be prouder to bring it back to the festival that encouraged me back when I was still finding my voice”.

Still from Alana Hick’s film ‘Chicken’, featuring this year.

Kalo says that showcasing films is not the only thing she is proud of. There is a greater cultural and community aspect to the festival that she says has built a strong sense of connection in the Pasifika community.

“[We try to have] cultural events that are an extension of the community, for example we had a film on the revival of traditional tattooing, done by a woman in Papua New Guinea, and then we had her come along to a screening where she did tattooing demonstrations,” she says, “we look into our community and we see who is actually doing those things and how can we get them involved and try to create a full experience for the people coming along.”

As well as this, the people behind PFF hold pitching competitions where industry professionals provide essential feedback to emerging storytellers, and the 48 Hour Film Challenge.

“[We asked ourselves] how do we extend beyond just showing films to engaging with our community, sharing stories and creating spaces where people can have a  dialogue and connect with one another,” Kalo explains.

“A big part of it is the connection, coming together in spaces to share and learn together.”

Tongan filmmaker Vea Mafileo, whose film ‘For My Father’s Kingdom’ will feature this year, says that PFF has been such an important platform that provides a “fully indigenous perspective”.

“The Pasifika Fest is so important because as Pasifika media creatives we are very young at this medium… it provides an opportunity for a range of Pasifika content makers to reach an audience we all know exists,” says Vea.

“The Pasifika Film Festival team have been a wonderful support for us and continue to be on our film making journey.”

Although physical film festivals are still scheduled to go ahead in some of the Pacific Islands, PFF has also been forced to go online. Kalo says that despite this having its disadvantages, it is also exciting that the filmmakers this year are being exposed to a global audience.

Submissions for this year’s festival are closed but Kalo encourages creators to pick up a camera and start creating, stressing that the PFF email is always open to ideas, pitches, and content.

“There’s so many stories around and so many interesting things to investigate,” she says.

“Storytelling is limitless… so go out there and have a try.”

Stay up to date with Pasifika Film Fest 2020 through their website HERE, or through their Facebook and Instagram accounts.


Kellie Maloney

Kellie is studying a Bachelor of Communications and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at UTS. She has a passion for travelling and experiencing other cultures through music, film, art and food. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]