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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 4, 2000 - PINA Nius Online)---A television documentary by Pacific Islanders ‘Atu Emberson-Bain and Michael Rokotuiviwa Preston has won the UNESCO gold medal award in the first New York Festivals award for productions from developing countries.

The Where the Rivers Meet documentary was researched, written, produced and directed by Tongan-born Fiji Islander Emberson-Bain. Camera and sound was by Fiji-born Michael Rokotuiviwa Preston, who composed and performed the film’s original music.

Where the Rivers Meet was commissioned in 1998 by the World Council of Churches Peace to the City Campaign. The global campaign produced a series of documentaries showcasing community-based peace-building initiatives in societies beleaguered by violence or conflict.

The seven cities chosen were Durban (South Africa), Boston (U.S.A.), Belfast (Northern Ireland), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Kingston (Jamaica), and Suva (Fiji Islands).

Where the Rivers Meet is set against the backdrop of Fiji's 1987 military coups and a colonial legacy of ethnic division.

It features the work of three civil society organizations to build cultural understanding, religious tolerance, and respect for human rights. They are

Interfaith Search (Fiji), People for Intercultural Awareness, and the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

The New York Festivals have been organizing annual competitions to honor outstanding achievements in a variety of media for more than forty years.

The UNESCO awards have become part of their annual International Television Programming Awards competition.

Since 1995, UNESCO Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals have been awarded to television documentaries on themes that best exemplify the goals and ideals of UNESCO. These themes have included human rights, cultural and gender issues, eradication of poverty, social issues such as the elimination of child labor, preserving the environment, education, freedom of expression, and peace.

Last year, the New York office of UNESCO and New York Festivals created a new category in the competition especially to honor television documentaries from developing countries and emerging states. They received entries from Africa, the Arab States, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Asia-Pacific region.

‘Atu Emberson-Bain is an independent consultant, researcher and documentary filmmaker. Her previous documentaries include Caught in the Crossfire, a film about sex workers in Fiji that was also a collaborative production with Michael Preston.

Emberson-Bain’s first documentary, Na Ma‘e Na Ma‘e! (We Stand Until We Die!), depicts the struggles of indigenous mineworkers in the company mining town of Vatukoula in Fiji.

‘Atu Emberson-Bain is a graduate of the Universities of Oxford, London and the Australian National University in Canberra.

Fiji-born Michael Preston is a professional musician (saxophone, percussion) and sound engineer who has performed and taught music in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

The UNESCO gold medal will be presented at a ceremony in New York on January 19.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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