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APIA, Samoa (June 21, 2000 - UNESCO/PINA Nius Online)---Three Pacific Islands women’s documentaries were screened at INPUT 2000 in Halifax, Canada, in May. It was the first time that this festival has screened Pacific Islands programs. The Pacific session was initiated by UNESCO.

INPUT is a forum of TV professionals from allover the world, who are interested in quality TV. Every year, the forum brings together about a thousand producers to screen and debate the highlights of Public TV.

UNESCO sponsored three Pacific producers for the Halifax session. Their programs were screened at a special session titled "Can Women Make a Difference through TV?"

They were Jennifer Kausei's "We Can Make It" about women in non-traditional jobs in Vanuatu; Nauna Paongo's "Breaking the Silence" about domestic violence in Tonga; and Faiesea Matafeo's "Navigating This World of Change" about young people in the Pacific. Faiesea works for the United Nations in Samoa and did her program for UNESCO.

"The Pacific ladies were great. The audiences were larger than one might expect and there were lots of questions from the floor," Sergio Bonelli of INPUT says. The Pacific productions were discussed at two sessions. The latter screened also a documentary on independence in Tuvalu produced by Conrad Mill of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SPC.

Mr. Bonelli said that this first experience has encouraged INPUT to look into the possibility of continuing next year, but with a slightly different theme. "The working title could be Emerging Worlds', meaning television from the Pacific, Africa or Central Asia that differ from the North and West oriented programming. The difference is not so much in their qualities but in how to serve the public regarding their basic needs for information and entertainment."

Sergio Bonelli thinks that "these televisions are still somehow virgin and not yet soiled by consumerism. When dealing with them, our criteria are somehow divided between 'homogenization' with world TV production and 'alterity', meaning the preservation of their specific cultural heritage."

Lisaleilani Williams's (Cook Islands) "Mirror Mirror" and Sincha Dimara's and Titi Gabi's (PNG) "Plastic Panic" were also scheduled but were not screened as the producers could not attend due to work back at home. "It was sad but INPUT is a producers' festival. Its rule is to screen only programs whose producers are there to debate their work," Mr. Bonelli explained.

All five women's programs were made as a part of the Pacific Women’s TV Workshop and Exchange Program, organized by UNESCO and SPC since 1992.

Margot Nash from Australia has led the workshops since 1997 to reinforce the documentary production skills of the participants. Ms. Nash is an independent producer and trainer. As part of the project, she has also provided distance advice and feedback in the production phase. In 1999, Lisaleilani Williams (now of the SPC Pacific Women's Resource Bureau) joined her as the counterpart trainer.

The project has been co-funded by UNESCO's IPDC, AusAID and the British DFID's Good Governance fund. DFID has also provided training to the producers in good governance issues.

UNESCO has co-operated with INPUT since 1995, to bring producers from Eastern Europe, Africa and now from the Pacific to this unique forum concerned with public TV content.

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