17 February 2014

Nuclear testing films big winners at Pacific Film Festival


Films about the struggle for independence and survival after decades of exposure to nuclear testing have been the big winners at the Pacific Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.
For the first time a New Caledonian film took out the grand prize of the jury with 'Nickel - the treasure of the Kanaks'.
'Nuclear Savage', about the United States nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands won the Jury Special prize.
A 1971 photo of a nuclear bomb detonated by the French government at the Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia. (AP Photo)
A 1971 photo of a nuclear bomb detonated by the French government
at the Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia. (AP Photo)
Leilani Momoisea reports:
The organiser of the Pacific Documentary Film Festival, Miriama Bono, says about 25,000 people attended the festival, which had 14 films in competition. She says as usual, the quality of films was very high, and came from all over, including New Zealand, Tahiti and Australia, but it was a New Caledonian film that captured the grand prize of the Jury. 'Nickel - the treasure of the Kanaks', made by Anne Pitoiset and Laurent Cibien, tells of the way Kanaks in the north managed to take control of the area's main resource, nickel. Miriama Bono says the film is timely, as people in New Caledonia prepare to vote on their independence.
MIRIAMA BONO: The story is a big issue for New Caledonian people because they have to vote and to decide after that if they want to stay French or not, and the nickel is one of the most important economic deals for them so because of the subject and because of the situation in New Caledonia, it was important for the jury to have this film as the winner.
The special prize of the Jury went to 'Nuclear Savage', made by Adam Horowitz, a film described as a heart-breaking and shocking exposé of the United States nuclear weapons tests in the Marshall Islands. Adam Horowitz says the film reveals that the testing of nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands was a deliberate attempt by the United States to investigate the effects of nuclear exposure on humans. He says he hopes the film will push the United States to release all the information it has on the nuclear tests.
ADAM HOROWITZ: The full extent of the testing and the contamination and the exposure of the people is still secret. So I would say the first thing that I would hope would happen, and many people hope will happen, is that the US government will come clean on what they did and the full extent of the contamination, the full extent of the human experiments.
Miriama Bono says the prize of the public was awarded to Tahitian film 'Annanahi tomorrow', about a famous local reggae group in the Marquesas islands.
MIRIAMA BONO: Marquesas people are very, living the culture. They are speaking their own language. Even in Tahiti, we don't speak Tahitian fluently. They are still singing and talking in Marquesas so I think that's what touched the audience, it's the cultural subject.
A member of the film jury, Emmanuel Tjibaou, says it was a good experience to be part of a film festival that supports Pacific voices.
EMMANUEL TJIBAOU: Especially promote through the movie, the expression of our indigenous people and it's good for me to hear our people talking about their vision of how they want to be seen through the movie.
Meetings were also held with film festival organisers from New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and New Caledonia, so the Pacific documentaries can be exposed to an international audience.