Pacific Stories to Premiere on Australian Television

Pacific Stories Australian Television Premiere

The producers of Pacific Stories are pleased to announce the national television broadcast premiere of the Pacific Stories 2011 films on NITV:
10:15 pm on Monday the 13th of May, 2013
Pacific Stories is a collection of 8 short films that were created by Australian based Pacific Islanders as part of a project that took place in Melbourne in 2011.  The Pacific Stories project was auspiced by Multicultural Arts Victoria and funded by the Australian Council for the Arts. The eight short films reflect on issues living in urban Australia as a Pacific diaspora and the issues of identity and culture.

Eight Australian Pacific Islanders share their stories about the challenges of negotiating Islander culture, language and identity in an Australian context. With cultural backgrounds from across the pacific (and the Torres Strait), these filmmakers explore the struggle to keep family connections strong, stories from the spiritual world, celebrate Oceanic art, and contemplate the meaning of age old traditional practices in our contemporary world.

Australian/ Solomon Islander documentary filmmaker Amie Batalibasi and Samoan/ Native American Community Arts practitioner Lia Pa’apa’a facilitated the project over 7 month period and produced all eight short films.

Representatives from the islands of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the Torres Strait Islands participated in the project and were involved in discussions around issues facing Australian Pacific Islanders and also filmmaking workshops – to create scripts for their own short films. The series of films that were created are of an extremely high caliber.

One film, entitled “Kome Kalana – My Bubu ” is about Warrie Kome, a young Papua New Guinean man who grew up in a small village on the central coast of PNG. It is a very personal portrayal of his Bubu’s story and how it’s connected to his story. Kome Kalana is an honest and raw narrative about his grandmother and how her unique culture shaped him and allowed him the freedom to discover and to be the man that his is today – now creating his own culture and identity living in Australia. Paia Juste-Constant (Motu Kekeni/Papua New Guinean/ Australian) wrote and directed the film called Reva Reva. She says, “Reva Reva” speaks of my connection to my grandmothers and their full body tattoos. This beautiful canvas is far greater than a staining of the skin, more than a pattern of ink”. Other films written and directed by Ranu James, Leilani Gibson, John Harvey, Pauline Vetuna, Lisa Hilli & Venina Kaloumaira are also a part of the series.

The films as a series of works allows the viewers to get a better understanding of the complexity of Pacific urban identity and what it means growing up in Australia.  Pacific Stories takes the viewer on a journey through the Pacific through the eyes of it’s children, who growing up in the urban metropolis of Melbourne, Australia have to negotiate their identity and culture away from their homelands

The films will premiere on NITV at 10:15pm on 13 May 2013.

For more information please go to or you can contact the Pacific Stories Producers at

Below is a preview:


Pacific Stories NEWS

Hi Pacific Stories supporters!

We hope that 2012 has been a good year for you all. The highlights for Pacific Stories were no doubt the Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray project in Robinvale, Victoria working with Indigenous and Pacific Islander young people to make films, as well as the Pacific Island Premiere of the 2011 Pacific Stories 8 short films in Honiara, Solomon Islands at the Festival of Pacific Arts in July.

Recently we were happy to have a Pacific Stories DVD giveaway on our Facebook page. The lucky winner was Tania Doula McLoughlin up in the Northern Territory – congratulations! Stay tuned because we may have another giveaway in store! This is the link to our Facebook page: click here.

It’s been an exciting year for film and Australian Pacific Islanders… The Wantok Stori project also premiered at the Festival of the Pacific Arts. To see the short film made: click here. The Tep Tok project initiated by Sunameke Productions and involving Ranu & Paia (from Pacific Stories 2011) is going strong. It’s a film project following “two women of Papua New Guinea and Australian descent as they explore the traditions of tattooing on a journey which takes them from Australia to PNG, New Zealand, Samoa and back”. More information on this one: click here.

Many wonderful initiatives have begun. For example, George Siosi Samuels is beginning a Pozible campaign to complete a short animation film Tales from Nanumea – Episode 4. George says: “I’m an independent animator, and the creator of the Tales From Nanumea series, which is an animation project to help preserve the stories of Tuvalu. Nanumea is one of eight atolls that make up Tuvalu, a small Polynesian nation at risk of sinking due to rising ocean levels (global warming).” His short films work towards raising awareness about Nanumea and climate change. For more information and to support this project: click here.

William Head, who volunteered and curated the Film and Photography program at the Festival of Pacific Arts has started an initiative to get a Solomon Islander filmmaker to the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) DocWeek in Adelaide in 2013. This is such an important step to help build a film industry where there isn’t one and support budding Pacific Islander filmmakers. For more information: click here.

And 2013 has got so much in store! We have some exciting news to announce soon and for those young Pacific Islanders in Melbourne we have a wonderful film initiative starting up called Story Weavers. Story Weavers is produced and facilitated by filmmakers Lisa Hilli, Amie Batalibasi and Robbie McEwan with support from Youthworx Media, Pacific Stories, Pacific Womens Weaving Circle and Signal.

Story Weavers Flier

Pacific Islanders have been telling awesome, unique stories for as long as anyone can remember. Now we wanna take more of our stories to the screen. Story Weavers is a hands- on filmmaking project for young Melbourne Pacific Islanders exploring PI identity in urban Australia. We’ll work with professional PI filmmakers and other PI young people to develop, shoot and screen a short film for the 2013 Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival. There’s lots of ways to get involved and learn new skills in performing, using cameras, writing, directing, sound design, sound recording and editing. Workshops will run at Signal in February and March 2013. If you’re 13-25 from Pacific background please APPLY ONLINE: CLICK HERE 

To learn more from the Story Weavers crew contact us at:
Email: OR

So that’s all for Pacific Stories news for now. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Years. You’ll be hearing more from us in 2013.

An International Event – FOPA

In July 2012, the Solomon Islands hosted the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the capital, Honiara. This event happens every four years – it’s a bit like the Olympics for Pacific Arts & Culture with 27 Pacific Countries in attendance.

Aotearoa Delegation, Opening Ceremony, Festival of Pacific Arts, Honiara, Solomon Islands. ©

Pacific Stories co-facilitator, Amie Batalibasi, and Pacific Stories 2011 filmmaker, Lisa Hilli, attended the festival and participated in several aspects of the FOPA Film Festival program.

We were fortunate to be able to hold the International Premiere of the Pacific Stories 2011 short films during the festival. Amie and Lisa were on hand to present the films to an absolutely packed house – it was hot, steamy and tropical in that big auditorium but that didn’t stop the show! The reaction from the crowd was wonderful and it was the perfect platform to tell stories through the film about Australia’s Pacific Islander diaspora. We sold quite a few DVDs to festival attendees and locals, so we know that those stories are now being spread around the world! We missed having co-facilitator Lia Pa’ap’a by our side – and the other filmmakers… Here’s a little reminder of the films and the 8 wonderful writer/directors: This is My Culture by Ranu James, Fehuluni by Leilani Gibson, Kome Kalana – My Bubu by Wari Kome, Upi Mop Le – The Last Fish by John Harvey, Coconut by Pauline Vetuna, Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle by Lisa Hilli, Reva Reva by Paia Juste-Constant, From One to Another by Venina Kaloumaira. (Click here to watch the Pacific Stories Preview).

The success of the Pacific Stories screening and in fact, the entire film program, demonstrated a shift to a more contemporary side of the Festival of Pacific Arts and highlighted the medium of film as an important way to share stories and create dialogue about issues affecting people and communities in the Pacific. (We hope that the future FOPAs embrace a film program too – the next one’s in Guam. Click here for the website). In addition, Amie was a part of the “Filmmaking in the Pacific” panel with Penny Smallacombe (AUS), Monica Guzman (GUAM), Adilah Dolaiano (SOL) and hosted by Joost Den Hartog from the Australia International Documentary Conference. As a result of this forum a Facebook group called FOPAfilm has been formed to continue discussions about filmmaking in the Pacific – for more details please see –

Pacific Stories International Premiere Screening at FOPA 2012. © Pacific Stories 2012.

The Pacific Stories films screened alongside the World Premiere of the Wantok Stori project short film Wea Noa Mi? (Where Am I?) – written, directed and acted by young first-time filmmakers in Honiara. It was an exciting event with the young people taking centre stage and introducing the film. We have been following the progress of that project here, and it gives us great pleasure to share the full length film with you all. Please enjoy- click here to watch (10mins). Also, look out for an educational resource kit – coming soon.

Filmmaking in the Pacific panelists: Joost Den Hartog, Amie Batalibasi, Penny Smallacombe, Monica Guzman, Adilah Dolaiano. © Pacific Stories 2012.

Well, that’s all from Pacific Stories for now… We hope you are well and happy! Don’t forget the Pacific Stories DVD is available online and makes a lovely gift!

Pacific Stories Films On SHOW

After the success of the Pacific Stories – Harmony on the Murray screening in Robinvale we are pleased to announce July screenings of the Pacific Stories 2011 films in Melbourne and the Solomon Islands! It is so fantastic to continue to share these 8 short films with the public one year after the project has finished.

Four films from Pacific Stories 2011 have been selected to screen at Multicultural Arts Victoria Inc.‘s EMERGE FILM FESTIVAL as part of the “Diverse Voices in Film” Program on July 3 at 7:25PM, Treasury Theatre.

‘Upi Mop Le’ by John Harvey, ‘This is My Culture’ by Ranu James, ‘Reva Reva’ by Paia Juste-Constant and ‘My Bubu’ by Warrie Kome will screen with other short films made by diverse communities in Melbourne. Please see this Facebook Event for more details! Pacific Stories DVDs will be on sale on the night:

For the full program for the EMERGE Film Festival – CLICK HERE

Here’s the Pacific Stories DVD preview:

We are very happy to announce that the Pacific Stories films will also be screening at the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in Honiara, Solomon Islands. This will be the first international screening of the films and also the Pacific Islands Premiere. It will be a wonderful opportunity to screen the films on an international stage.

Pacific Stories will screen at FOPA with the short film called “Wea Nao Mi? (Where Am I?)”. This is the short film that has been produced as part of the Wantok Stori – Culture in Harmony with Nature project that Pacific Stories filmmakers Amie Batalibasi and Lisa Hilli have been involved in.

Festival of Pacific Arts Screening Details for Pacific Stories & Wantok Stori:
DATE: Thursday, July 5, 2012
TIME: 3:00PM (Honiara Time)
WHERE: FOPA Auditorium, Honiara (near the Museum)

Still from “Wea Nau Mi?” Wantok Stori short film screening with Pacific Stories at the Festival of Pacific Arts, 2012. © Wantok Stori

Pacific Stories Screening: A Night of Nights!

On 25 June 2011, the Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) came alive with Pasifika sights, sounds and stories. After seven months, this was the night for Pacific Stories participants, friends, family and the community to come together to celebrate the completion of the Pacific Stories project and to premiere the eight short films produced by eight dedicated and talented filmmakers: Leilani Gibson, John Harvey, Lisa Hilli, Ranu James, Paia Juste-Constant, Venina Kaloumaira, Warrie Kome and Pauline Vetuna.

Participants and performers arrived early to start decorating and getting organised. (Thanks to Venina, co-facilitator Lia and others, for making beautiful decorations for the evening including flowers, a giant ukulele and giant coconuts!! See pictures). Emeretta and the FCAC crew were also there making preparations as the clock ticked away. Meanwhile, I was busy doing a final run through of the films – making sure there were no glitches.

When I emerged into the foyer, crowds of people had already arrived and the room was abuzz with excitement. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t have enough room for everyone in the hall, but with the kids down the front sitting on mats, everyone found a place to view the Pacific Stories films for the first time.

Lia Pa’apa’a (what a woman!) was our gracious host for the evening – and what a wonderful job she did. When I got up on the stage I had to take a photo of our awesome crowd – over 200 plus smiling faces! When it was time to play the films, I was so happy to stand at the back of the room with Lia and watch the eight films screen in front of an audience. I had watched the films 100s of times in the edit room, but as I stood there that night, I felt like I was watching them for the first time. The feeling in the room was indescribable – I could hear a few sniffles in the crowd and there were a few tears from me too!!

The Pacific Stories Crew. Photo by Anne Harkin from MAV.

For those of you who couldn’t make it along it’s about time you met the filmmakers – the people that have made this project so great by generously sharing their stories through film (in order of screening program):

This is My Culture
by Ranu James (Motu Kekeni/Papua New Guinean/ Australian)
This film was adapted from a poem I wrote in response to a statement that I often hear from teachers which is: “We treat everyone the same.” I wanted to explain that culture is something intrinsically linked to who we are, it cannot be separated from someone and to treat everyone the same is to deny our uniqueness.

by Leilani Gibson
(Tonga/ Palangi)
This film speaks of the spiritual world and discusses the traditional story of a beautiful Tongan woman, Fehuluni, as told through the eyes of artist and curator Loketi Niua Latu. It explores the intersection of traditional cultural stories and contemporary art.

Kome Kalana – My Bubu
by Wari Kome (Papua New Guinean)
Warrie is a young Papua New Guinean man who grew up in a small village on the central coast of PNG. This is a very personal portrayal of his Bubu’s story and how it’s connected to his story. Kome Kalana is an honest and raw narrative about his grandmother and how her unique culture shaped him and allowed him the freedom to discover and to be the man that his is today – now creating his own culture and identity.

Upi Mop Le – The Last Fish
by John Harvey (Torres Strait Islander – Saibai Island & English descent)
Torres Strait Islander artist Ricardo Idagi talks about how his new turtle shell mask is an expression of himself. This film explores how Ricardo, as a Torres Strait Islander artist living so far away from his homeland of Murray Island, maintains a sense of connection with ‘home’ through his artwork.

by Pauline Vetuna (Papua New Guinean)
A young woman talks to her Papua New Guinean mother about her parents’ decision to raise her without their indigenous language or culture.

Reva Reva
by Paia Juste-Constant (Motu Kekeni/Papua New Guinean/ Australian)
Reva Reva speaks of my connection to my grandmothers and their full body tattoos. This beautiful canvas is far greater than a staining of the skin, more than a pattern of ink.

Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle
by Lisa Hilli (Papua New Guinean/ Australian)
Love, laughter, excitement and a passion for tradition and contemporary Pacific weaving. It’s a document of what happens when Pacific Islander women get together to weave.

From One to Another
by Venina Kaloumaira (Fijian/ Hungarian)
This film is an exploration of the continuation of cultural connection and belonging to Fiji, through the passing down of knowledge from father to son whilst living in Australia. It unearths a sweet and unexpected tale of not only their relationship with one another, but a revelation of the strength of their identity as first and second generation Fijians, living in Australia.

Credit and congratulations to the filmmakers – the reaction after the films screened was overwhelming. The filmmakers did a short Q&A with members of the audience sharing their thoughts. It was obvious that these films were successful in creating thought and discussion about issues effecting Pacific Islander people & communities but it was also interesting to hear the opinions of some young Aboriginal men who said that they also identified with these issues – as well as other people from migrant backgrounds who said to me that they identified with the films’ themes of connection to homelands, culture and identity here in Australia.

The night was topped off with DELICIOUS food from the West Papuan Community and performances from Drum Drum Pikanini (PNG), Iviiti Girls: Esther & Angelique Iviiti
(the Kingdom of Tonga) Fijian Serenade (Fiji) & Josephine Inia, Brown Roots Collective (we send a huge amount of gratitude and respect to these people because the night would not have been so wonderful without this beautiful display of PI culture).

To read more about what happened that night and what people thought, check out these blogs: Pearson’s Space by Pearson Vetuna and Just the Messenger by Pauline Vetuna.

As co-facilitator of Pacific Stories I feel privileged to have worked side-by-side with co-facilitator Lia Pa’apa’a and the wonderful participants – I can’t say enough how fantastic they are!! BUT this is by no means the end of Pacific Stories – the DVD will be available soon; there has been interstate and international requests for screenings; and Lia and I are investigating how to broadcast these stories to Australia and the World! Stay tuned and contact us with ideas, feedback etc.

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A HUGE thanks to our project supporters: Australia Council for the Arts, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Victoria University Moondalli Bullak Indigenous Unit & our screening supporters: Footscray Community Arts Centre and Yarraville Community Centre.

Cheers, Amie Batalibasi.

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