Hawaii International Film Festival Showcases Pacific Films

admin's picture

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Film Reviews

By Caroline Yacoe

Implementing its mandate of "increasing knowledge and appreciation of Asia and the Pacific," the 35th Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) this year showed films from remote islands both the North and South Pacific..

From Micronesia’s Marshall Islands, "Jilel: The Calling of the Shell" is the sensitive telling of a Marshallese tradition where a family treasure: in this case a trumpet shell, Jilel with supernatural powers, is passed down from a dying grandmother to her granddaughter. As this magic shell is passed from hand to hand in the community its powers becomes more and more dramatic. Even reaching all the way to the White House in Washington, DC. Inspired by the poetry of Kathy Jenil-Kijiner (whose presentation on climate change received a standing ovation at the United Nations General Assembly) Jilel combines serious issues with humor and local music. Marshallese people, scenes and culture all integrate while dealing with the disastrous effect of of climate change on their Islands. Directors: Jack Niedenthal, Suzanne Chutaro

From Tanna in Vanuatu "Waiting for John" explores and updates one of the few remaining "Caro Cults" left over from World War II in the Pacific. When Pacific Islanders saw the massive amounts of "cargo" delivered to their islands for the troops to use during the war they were astonished. Black soldiers in the military had access to this cargo leading Islanders to think that it was right for them to also share in this bounty. An attitude not shared by their current colonial administrations. Another belief was that the Ancestors had provided this wealth and meant it for them too if only they could do the correct rituals. Probably based on a real black American soldier "John Frum" who shared some cargo with the locals, this cult has persisted for many years. Waiting for John explores the lives and moves of the people who still believe in the return of "John". Directed by Jessica Sherry.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment