Big Night on the Murray!

On Tuesday 26th June, the small town of Robinvale came alive to celebrate the hard work of 12 of it’s young people for the World Premier of Pacific Stories- Harmony on the Murray!!  The screening was a cultural event with the Dreamtime Indigneous Dance group kicking off a huge night of dance, song and film.  This project was targeted at bringing young people from Pacific and Indigenous Australian backgrounds together, giving them a chance to explore their diverse identities as well as any shared identity and stories that they might have.  The journey of film making is a long and in depth one.  All the participants went on this journey together and found out so much about film, themselves and eachother!

This was on the front page of the newspaper the morning of our screening:

 The two 10 minute documentaries were titled Bright Stars which showcased some of the amazing talent that the young people in Robinvale have including a formidable young drummer named Eric and Chrissie who has the voice and heart of an angel.  The other film was titled Cultural Spirituality.  The film makers explored the different faiths and beliefs that their communities hold dear.  The interviews of Sissy Petit, Ale Ale and Thelma Chilly explored Indigenous Austrealin Spirituality, Christian faith and how people marry the two to live in Harmony with their cultural and religious beliefs.  Although the films were very different they both shoed the richness of their communities and shone positive light on both the Tongan and Australian Indigenous communities of Robinvale.  The film makers should be very proud of them as we are!!
Here are some photos:

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The World Premier was a celebration of all that the group had achieved and their friends, family and community all came out to celebrate with them.  There were over 60 performers on the night including performances from the Dreamtime Dancers, both Tongan young men and women as well as the amazing talents of Chrissie Ale who was also one of the subjects of the film “BRIGHT STARS”.  The films were well recieved by everyone with the cheering and applause both at the end of the films and throughout them!!  The nights entertainment was concluded with the Robinvale Brass Band, headed up by the amazing Suia, playing “We are Australian” accompanied by Daryl Singh on the Didgeridoo- encapulating the whole essence of Harmony on the Murray. The crowd sang along in harmony as well.

 All of the film makers shone throughout the evening and during the day- with so much media coverage from TV, radio and the newspapers.  The evening was a fitting celebration of their work and we know that there are a few budding film makers that might be coming out of Robinvale in the future!! (Thanks to Ana Rees, the principal at Robinvale P-12 College for organising the event and teacher Glen Barrow for running around behind the scenes!)

We are both so thankful to the community of Robinvale for letting us into your homes and sharing the richness of your stories and histories with us and the young film makers.  We have also learnt so much and just hope that we can find a way to get back up there again soon!!

The DVDs will be on sale soon so keep checking out the FB page!!

Big thanks to our project supporters, Regional Arts Victoria, Swan Hill Rural City Council, Robinvale Network House and Robinvale P-12 College.

Listen to the ABC Radio Coverage from the event: CLICK HERE


The big event is near!

We are pleased to share with you the details for the PREMIERE Screening of the two short films made in Robinvale by our young filmmakers! We will screen the films along with a few films from Pacific Stories 2011, have some performances and also hopefully have a guest filmmaker to talk at the event – we will let you know when this is confirmed. CLICK HERE for the Harmony on the Murray Facebook Event.

DVDs of the films will be available on the night – see you there!

Premiere in Robinvale This Month

We are gearing up for the World Premiere of the two short films made by the Indigenous and Pacific Islander young people participating in the Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray project.

Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray 2012 ©

The films are being edited as we speak and the a Screening Committee made up of young people from Robinvale P-12 College’s FLO Program, has been busy planning the big event scheduled for Tuesday 26 June in Robinvale. We are planning to screen the films, have a feed and provide entertainment so if you are in Robinvale we invite you to come along! We will post the flyer and more details soon so stay tuned…

We also would like to keep you informed about Wantok Stori – a film collaboration project where young people in the Solomon Islands are producing a short film to be screened at the Festival of Pacific Arts (FOPA) in Honiara in July. Pacific Stories Co-facilitator Amie Batalibasi and Pacific Stories 2011 Filmmaker Lisa Hilli, have been involved in training young Solomon Islanders in Honiara to produce a short narrative film around the FOPA theme Culture in Harmony with Nature. Wantok Stori is looking for support for the next phase of the project. The fundraising deadline is 15 June and if you would like more information please like, share and visit:  Any support is greatly appreciated and goes towards the Wantok Stori project which is kick-starting young Pacific Islanders in the beginning of their journeys filmmakers!

Filming in Solomon Islands © Wantok Stori 2012

It’s a WRAP!!!!

After an amazing week back at Robinvale P-12 College we have captured some amazing footage that will now be part of the two films that the Harmony on the Murray  team is creating.

The 9 young people that have been involved were thrown straight back into the project on Monday morning, revising what we had learnt during the first workshop and storyboarding for their films. The films being made are around “Talented people in Robinvale” (an idea pitched by participant Moj) and “Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale” (an idea pitched by participant Ofiu).  Both really big topics with heaps to explore within such a dynamic community like Robinvale.

Shoot with Eric for the ‘Talent’ film. © Pacific Stories 2012

“Talented people in Robinvale”  saw the film makers look into the lives of Chrissy Ale- a 16 year old singer who is working hard to become a professional singer when she leaves school.  With a voice of an angel, Chrissy performs across the region.  Chrissy’s song that she wrote and plays guitar to will definitly be a major feature of the film!!  We also met Eric Peniongo who is a 12 year old drummer with mad skills!!  Eric is a drummer for the Robinvale Brass band- which is headed up by Tongan conductor Siua and has a 20 strong membership- you should hear them play R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  We also meet the newly established Hip-Hop dance crew “MIXTURES” who mix cultures and dances to come up with their own dances.  Congratulations to Jarome, Mary, Sarah and Moj for working as such a great crew on the film.

“Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale” allowed the film makers Lillian, Juanita, Kadeasha, Dua and  Leone to explore religion and spirituality from both the Tongan and Indigenous perspective.  A massive topic, the filmmakers interviewed three prominent community members.  Sissy Petit, who is a cultural advisor and grew up in and around Robinvale was filmed down at “Easter Camp” along the Murray River.  Sissy spoke about cultural connection to country and it’s importance to Indigneous people.  We heard stories from that land and learnt things that we didn’t know about Robinvale’s first people.  Thelma Chilly was also interviewed, she explored Spirituality and Christianity and the role that it has played in her life.  From the Tongan community, Alefosio Ale who is the P-12 Chaplain and Pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.  Ale (who is also Chrissy’s dad) talked about his role as a Pastor and how it informs him as a community and youth worker.

Interview with Sissi Petit at ‘Easter Camp’. © Pacific Stories 2012.

Overall, the community of Robinvale has again been incredibly gracious and generous with sharing their time and stories with the film makers.  We now have heaps of great footage that we are taking back to Melbourne to get edited with assistance from some of the Young Media Makers Project crew.

Participants, Facilitators and Project Supporters on our last day. © Pacific Stories 2012.

The screening has been booked for Tuesday June 26th in Robinvale so mark the date in your calendar and stay tuned for more information  about what is going to be another amazing Pacific Stories event. We have a group of students developing and managing the screening event.

Pacific Stories would like to thanks all who have participated in week 2 of this project.  From the filmmakers and their parents who have supported them to be part of this project, the school staff and all of the community that we have worked with and our project partners, funders and supporters.  A special thanks to Glenn in the music room who has allowed us to use his space and gear.  It takes a community to raise a child – and in Robinvale there is such a supportive community behind these children – we feel very blessed to be a part of it!!

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Stay tuned and follow Pacific Stories on Facebook for more info and photos!

Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray PRESS RELEASE


A group of young people from Robinvale P-12 College are talking about issues important to them by making short documentary films to be screened in Robinvale in June.

Harmony on the Murray project. © Pacific Stories 2012

The group of 9 young people are participants in a community filmmaking project called Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray where they have had the opportunity to learn how to make films with guidance from filmmakers & project facilitators Amie Batalibasi & Lia Pa’apa’a from Melbourne. The group of young people are from Pacific Islander and Indigenous communities in reflection of Robinvale’s Aboriginal & Islander Harmony Committee.

The young people were involved in a week long intensive in March where they learnt everything from storyboarding, to camera operation, sound and editing; and had group discussions about culture, identity and religion to come up with the two film ideas that are being shot around Robinvale this week– Talented Young People in Robinvale and Religion & Spirituality in Robinvale.

“The Harmony on the Murray project allows young people from Robinvale to explore their own identity, the identity of others through the medium of film. I think that the participants have found a lot of strength and beauty within their own communities by exploring the film topics of talent and religion” says Lia Pa’apa’a.

One of the participants, 15-year-old Lillian explains, “I think it’s important to be part of this project because if you have a message to tell people and you don’t have a voice, this project is the perfect opportunity for you get your message out and it’s also a great way to learn the different techniques about filming.”

This week, now that the stories for the two documentaries are confirmed, the students are behind the camera, filming around Robinvale, interviewing their peers and other respected community members.

“It’s been fantastic to see the young people working together as a film crew and figuring out group dynamics. Filmmaking is not an easy process. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing but we certainly are working together to learn and grow as a team throughout this process. Lia and I really expect a lot from them – and we are using professional filming equipment – so they have really done well and stepped up to the challenge,” says filmmaker Amie Batalibasi.

© Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray 2012.

Facilitators Amie and Lia are both filmmaker/ artists based in Melbourne and the Harmony on the Murray project is a continuation from Pacific Stories, a short film project run in Melbourne in 2011 where eight people from Pacific Islander backgrounds produced stories around culture and identity. “Pacific Stories was the start of what has become a great working relationship between Amie and I but also a vehicle for us to engage other communities across Australia. It has showed us that there is a need to empower community through film in order for them tell their stories to broader communities,” says Lia Pa’apa’a

Amie adds, “It is such a pleasure and a privilege to be here in Robinvale working with these young people and the community. The idea isn’t for us to come in and make a film about the community, but to share filmmaking skills with the participants so that they can tell their own stories in their own way. The young people are so creative and have come up with great ideas. I can’t wait to come back in June for the World Premiere Screening.”

Harmony on the Murray is funded by Regional Arts Victoria and Swan Hill Rural City Council. It is further supported by Robinvale P-12 College and Robinvale Network House.

To follow the project and see photos you can subscribe to the blog at OR find us on Facebook at:

For further information please contact Pacific Stories on

Harmony on the Murray- Pre Production WEEK 1

Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray has had a great first week in Robinvale working with our 9 new film makers from Robinvale P-12 College.  The community welcomed us on the first evening with a BBQ and after showing the parents some of Pacific Stories and My Story, My Place- Through the lens the parents wanted to know when there would be workshops for the adults!!

We ran an intensive film making workshop with the students.  The group is made up of 9 students from Tongan and Aboriginal backgrounds.  We wanted to give students from these two backgrounds an oportunity to explore their identity and relationship to each other through the film making process.

Pacific Stories - Harmony on the Murray group. © Pacific Stories 2012

We started by exploring film, culture and identity, with students learning about film genres, the film making process as well as some Indigenous Australian history and exploring their own cultures and identities, both as cultural groups and then individuals.

Students also learnt the technical aspects of film including composition, framing and interview techniques – which they all got to put into practice during a vox pop session at lunchtime, where the filmmakers interviewed their peers about different isues. And at the special assembly to welcome the school’s Japanese visitors.

Vox Pop in action: Sarah, Mary & Lillian ask fellow students about what culture means to them. © Pacific Stories 2012

Students then went on to learn about STORY – something that we always come back to as filmmakers!!!  Students studied script and storyboards, developing their own in small groups of a 6-shot film that the students then went out and filmed in the school yard.

By the end of the week it came down to the business end of the workshops, with students having to develop their own individual film concept. They developed a sysnopsis and  plot and pitched it to the group. All 9 students came up with really interesting ideas but after the pitches only 2 could be chosen and there was a unanimous vote for two films.  The films that Harmony on the Murray project group is making are about- “Religion in Robinvale” and “Talented People in Robinvale”.  We are really excited to get back up to Robinvale for the first week of May to start making these films.

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On friday, after a very long intensive week, we asked the students about the Pacific Stories experience to date and this is what they had to say:

” The thing I enjoyed the most is filming all the angles because it helps me when I’m filming something.” Jeremyaar.

“I think it’s important to be part of this project because if you have a message to tell people and you don’t have a voice, this project is the perfect opportunity for you get your message out and it’s also a great way to learn the different techniques about filming.’ Lillian

The part I enjoyed most was storyboarding and filming it and watching the varieties of documentaries they have previously filmed. I deeply love Pacific Stories! You learn, use skills and most of all have FUN!” Mary

” I have enjoyed interviewing people’s thoughts on this school because we got to have a go with using the camera and learning different techniques.” Ofiu

“I have enjoyed using the video recorders, and being able to film many things. Like: interviewing people, making a story board and producing it. I am enjoying how we interact as with each other, and how we co-operate together, to improve our team work skills.” Moj

” I think that it’s important to be part of this project because the community will hear what the youth have to share and we could also get a lot of skills out of this” Ebony

” Its important to be in this project because you learn how to film and learn about filming and how to use a camera and all about the different types of angles, shots and about production and directors and producers.  You learn heaps that you never learnt of heard before and it is an opportunity to learn more about filming.” Sarah

“I cannot say what I have most enjoyed about the filming process because I have enjoyed everything because I am learning all different kinds of things about filmmaking and each other.” Kadeasha

” I think that it is important to be in this project because I want to learn more about things and get to know more about the people that we work with.” Juanita

Back L-R: Amie (Facilitator), Ebony, Mary, Lillian, Sarah, Ofiu, Moj, Jerammyaar. Front L-R: Nita, Kadeasha, Lia (Faciltiator). © Pacific Stories 2012

So, it was a hugly productive and inspiring week working on Harmony on the Murray – a film project that is not only going to have some great outcomes with the the creation of 2 short films that will be screening in June, but also with the development of these 9 exciting new film makers.

Thanks for following us on this journey!