Tatau Samoa graces Pacific Heartbeat film fest

The traditional Samoan tattooing process tatau has been featured in a film festival in Hawaii alongside the skin art of Hawai’i and Aotearoa.

The Pacific Heartbeat Summer Film Fest is a virtual celebration exploring the art and culture of Hawai’i, New Zealand and Samoa and is presented by the Honolulu-based Pacific Islanders in Communications [P.I.C.].

P.I.C. Executive Director Leanne Ferrer, in a statement posted on the group’s website, said they were thrilled to offer the virtual event at a time when everyone is avoiding travel due to the pandemic.

“In this time of pandemic when nearly everyone is avoiding travel and unnecessary exposure, we are thrilled to offer our Pacific Heartbeat Summer Film Fest on YouTube, where everyone can join a cultural and cinematic exploration of the Pacific Islands right from their homes—or even their phones,” said Ms Ferrer.

The festival is a project of Pacific Heartbeat – which is a public media anthology series that provides viewers a glimpse of the real Pacific – its people, cultures, languages, music, and contemporary issues. 

From revealing exposés to rousing musical performances, the series features a diverse array of programs that will draw viewers into the heart and soul of Pacific Island culture.

The summer film festival builds on the work of the P.I.C. in May and June to make more titles available online via its primary P.B.S. portal. 

“We have been working double-time to make more content available to viewers online, and the ability to place full-length films on YouTube definitely allows us to expand our audience beyond PBS,” added Cheryl Hirasa, Vice President and Managing Director of PIC.

Four unique titles from the P.I.C. catalogue will be posted to YouTube with universal access—on four consecutive Wednesdays beginning 19 August, 2020.

“The films, which explore the arts and culture of Hawai’i, New Zealand, Samoa, and beyond, will be accompanied by an activity guide and social media outreach that invite viewers to explore the Pacific Islands without the need for travel,” according to the P.I.C. statement.

The festival starts on 19 August with “One Voice” from Hawai’i, the story of the annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest, as told through the eyes of student song directors.

On 26 August, the all men’s dance group “Black Grace” from Aotearoa will be featured. 

And on 2 September, the P.I.C. will feature “Hoi Mai Pele” [Pele Travels] which tells the epic saga of the rivalry between Pelehonuamea, goddess of the volcano, and her youngest and favorite sister Hi’iaka.

Samoa’s art of tatau will be featured in the “Skin Stories” on 9 September. 

The film was first aired on PBS in 2003 under the title “Skin Stories” and unearths the personal stories of transformation, both from the tattoo masters and those who receive the marks.

Going back more than 2,000 years in the Pacific Islands, tattoo is an ancient art form that began as a rite of passage for Polynesians and has become a form of expression for people worldwide. Featuring traditional tattooing ceremonies, compelling interviews, and a breathtaking collection of tattoo body art, "Skin Stories" traces the roots of tattoo in the Pacific, states P.I.C.

From the steaming landscape of Rotorua in New Zealand to the vibrant gathering of the first international tattoo convention in Apia, Samoa; from the terraced, lush taro fields of Maui and golden beaches of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, to the California Coast, this film is an anthology of stories and stunning images that highlight the evolution of cultural traditions in the Pacific.

All films will be available on the Pacific Heartbeat YouTube channel.

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