Fine Arts Department Sponsors Film Showcase
October 17, 2016
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
Students and members of the public enjoyed two recent examples of regional filmmaking at its finest when the American Samoa segment of the “Deep Waters” Pacific Film Showcase took place on Thursday, October 13th, in the ASCC Lecture Hall. This free event, sponsored by the Fine Arts Department, featured two documentaries, “Sons of Halawa,” which looks at the challenges of carrying on cultural traditions in Molokai’s Halawa Valley, and “The Roots of ‘Ulu,” which traces the ‘ulu (breadfruit) from its arrival in Hawaii with the first Polynesian settlers to its present day uses for food sustainability and cultural preservation.
“Deep Waters” was initiated by the Honolulu-based organization Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), whose mission is to support, advance, and develop Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture, and contemporary challenges. In keeping with the mission, PIC helps Pacific Islander stories reach audiences worldwide through funding documentary films, national broadcast on PBS stations, digital storytelling, training filmmakers, and community and educational screenings.
“The name ‘Deep Waters’ came from the idea that while on the surface it appears that our islands are all connected by the Pacific, as part of the Blue Continent, our ties run deeper than the surface, on many levels,” said PIC Executive Director Leanne Ferrer. “The showcase title also conveys that our stories from the Pacific are deep and complex with many layers and meanings.” Beginning in 2010, screenings of PIC-supported films have screened under the “Deep Waters” banner in locations including Hawaii, Guam, San Francisco and of course American Samoa.
Sharing her personal reflections on the two features that screened at ASCC, Ferrer recalled how “Sons of Halawa” was created with very little money, from the filmmaker, Matt Yamashita's own pocket, as a tribute to his ‘hanai’ (adopted) father. “The overarching theme of finding a successor for your life's experience and knowledge and creating your legacy is universal,” she said, “but what impressed me the most is the secondary theme of freely sharing of your culture and taking others in as your family. ‘Sons of Halawa’ has resonated with audiences, has been accepted to many film festivals, and has sold out nearly all of its screenings, which shows how Polynesian values prevail and how much stories that showcase our way of life are appreciated.”
Ferrer said "The Roots of Ulu," also part of the showcase, has received a similarly enthusiastic response from audiences. “The filmmaker, John Antonelli, was able to carve out a story from the vast topic of 'ulu,” explained Ferrer. “The importance of food sustainability on an island is not a new concept. Samoans have been growing, harvesting and cooking their own ulu since the beginning of time. The fact that they have not lost the practice is impressive, with the advent of 21st century conveniences. This film is a cautionary tale of losing touch with your roots and the damage that can come from trading tradition for modern luxuries. The American Samoa audience may find it interesting how their Hawaiian cousins are trying re-establish their relationship with ‘ulu and spread the knowledge of its healthful properties and sustainability as a crop.”
PIC works with independent producers to create and distribute programs about Pacific Islanders that advance issues and represent diverse voices and points of view not usually seen on public or commercial television. After 25 years in existence, PIC has helped to produce over 100 hours of programming for national broadcast, trained over 400 filmmakers, and has presented over 200 community screenings worldwide that reached more than 60,000 people. PIC continues to seek Pacific Islanders interested in the media industry as it strives to train and guide content creators to continue storytelling traditions through media. For more information about Pacific Islanders in Communications or to become a supporter, visit www.piccom.org.