Last summer, I had the chance to attend a unique event in the South Pacific. The Film Raro paradise challenge took place in Rarotonga; the capital of the Cook Islands. The event consisted in bringing five film crews to make five film projects highlighting the island’s cultural and natural heritage.
Five teams were selected from 2000 entries and they were from USA, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom. The event was preceded by a class that introduced locals to the process of filmmaking.
Prior to the event, the locals assisted to a class about filmmaking and acting.
When the event started, each team had to finish both the production and post-production phase within 14 days. The teams and the projects were very diverse. From New Zealand, David Gould made a film about a young boy who gets touched by the wisdom of a local fisherman that changed his perception about the island. The Stone Brothers from California, adapted Scott Fitzgerald’s Offshore Pirate into a film about a girl who rediscovers her origins upon return to Rarotonga. The Australian team made a comedy about a million pound contest to find a corgi-dog that is supposed to have descended from Queen Elizabeth’s dogs. Karen Williams produced a documentary about ‘Mou Pirri’ a folkloric wedding song that originates from the Cook Islands.
The island lived on the Film Raro rhythm for two consecutive weeks. Rarotongans were involved in the filmmaking and post production process. They volunteered on sets, helped build sets, made props, prepared meals and were the majority of actors in the different films.
The event ended with the projects’ screening in front of a large audience which flocked from the different sides of the island.
I volunteered as a production assistant along with British Indian actor Dizzy Patel and Tahitian student Tiairani Drollet-le-Caill. We got the chance to rotate around film sets. This was an exciting learning experience for all of us. We got the chance to be involved in five films at the same time and see films getting made.
The different films made it into different film festivals and won prices allowing more visibility to the island of Rarotonga, its culture, history and heritage.
Event website: www.filmraro.com
Nader was born in Tunisia and was a student of the MA in Heritage Management 2012/2013. His interest in cinema was nurtured at the Tunisian Federation of Film Societies. Nader holds a B.A in English Language and Literature from the Institute of Human Sciences of Jendouba. He also holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology from New Mexico State University. Nader wants to bring his interest in heritage management to film. In the last two years, he has been developing film projects both in his native country and abroad.