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Reposted from written by Marushka HirshonMarch 16, 2020

Kalolaine believes Oceanic voices have been minimized for too long and sees the rise of digital and traditional Pacific storytelling. After co-creating Pasifika Film Fest, a platform for Pacific filmmakers, she is ready to reclaim space for herself as a Pasifika storyteller by launching her own feature documentary, A Child of Oceania.

Kalolaine “Kalo” Fainu is a child of Oceania. Born and raised in Australia with roots in Samoa, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea, she is part of a generation of Oceanic women who recognize the importance of uncovering, documenting, and decolonizing their ancestral histories.

Ever since witnessing the minimal inclusion of Pacific voices in mainstream media , Kalo has been fighting for Pacific representation in the film industry.

It was at the University of Technology Sydney that the seeds were planted to create a Pacific-focused film festival. There, she met the only other Pacific person, her future co-founder of Pasifika Film Fest, Eli.

Fast-forward to 2020 and Pasifika Film Festival (PFF) is expanding the festival across the Pacific region, with screenings held not only in Australia and New Zealand, but back in the Pacific Islands.

Eliorah Malifa (3rd from right) and Kalolaine Fainu (2nd from right) at the 2020 FIFO (Festival International du Film Documentaire Oceanien) with filmmakers, Fresh TB and Coconet TV crew. Photo courtesy of Kalolaine Fainu.

After spending the past few years empowering others through the festival, Kalo is ready to empower herself and work on her storytelling craft. What started off as a trip to coordinate a family event in Papua New Guinea turned into an opportunity to learn about her past.

“A lot of people share this experience, of connecting back to where their parents are from. There’s something different about being in those spaces where your family grew up. It resonates with us internally.”

After learning about her family’s complex past in Papua New Guinea and seeing parallels between her life and her elder, Phebe Parkinson (a well-known elder in Papua New Guinea), she saw the opportunity to create a film interweaving past and present histories as well as traditional and digital storytelling.

“ My grandfather, was brought up by Phebe Parkinson who traveled from Samoa in the mid 1800s to develop plantations in Papua New Guinea. My documentary will talk about the transition from Samoa to New Guinea and the parallels between my great great grandmother, Phebe, and myself. This story is a biographical documentary about me finding myself and reconnecting to my ancestral lands.”

Kalo hopes her film will raise awareness of regional history as well as inspire other women of Oceania to speak up and share the deep cultural tapestry of Oceania’s history through film.

Pasifika Film Fest is still open for submissions until May 31st.

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