Samoan Youth Filmmakers celebrate at 'Alofa Awards'

By Talaia Mika 14 April 2024, 10:00PM

The vibrant spirit of Pacific storytelling came alive as the inaugural Alofa Awards shone a spotlight on young filmmakers from across the Pacific, including Samoa, during a glittering ceremony held in Wellington.

This prestigious event, hosted for the first time in the capital city, celebrated the creative talents of 60 young Pacific filmmakers representing 17 local schools. 

Organised by Pacific media production company Poporazzi Productions, the Alofa Awards underscored the transformative power of storytelling and the importance of intergenerational narratives within Pacific communities.

Co-founders Muagututi’a Esera Tanoa’i and Pulotu Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i, both Wellingtonians, emphasised the significance of fostering cultural connections and historical understanding through filmmaking workshops. 

Their mentorship program, which expanded to include Wellington this year, aims to empower Pacific youth to engage with their culture and heritage through visual storytelling.

Reflecting on the impact of the workshops, Solomon-Tanoa’i highlighted the students' immersive experience in learning about the historical significance of events like the Dawn Raids. 

"Our aim was to help students appreciate the struggles and history of Pacific communities in New Zealand through storytelling," Solomon-Tanoa’i explained.

Tanoa’i echoed this sentiment, noting the unique opportunity for students to hear firsthand accounts from survivors of the Dawn Raids and engage with Pacific filmmakers who shared their experiences and techniques.

The Alofa Awards, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples Teu Le Va Fund and Wellington UNESCO City of Film, recognised outstanding talent among Pacific youth filmmakers. 

The top honour was awarded to "A Different Awakening," directed by Vatau Sagaga from Wainuiomata Intermediate and Alaifatu Fraser Fatialofa from Wellington College, for its poignant portrayal of intergenerational dialogue.

The judging panel, featuring esteemed Pacific screen industry icons such as Tusi Tamasese, Marina McCartney, and Bailey Poching, emphasised the importance of mentorship in nurturing emerging talent.

Looking ahead, Tanoa’i envisions a future where Pacific filmmakers continue to excel on the global stage. 

"Our goal is to inspire the next generation of Pacific storytellers and provide them with the tools and mentorship to succeed," he remarked.

The winners of the Alofa Awards received prizes to support their filmmaking aspirations, alongside a unique statuette symbolizing the love and passion invested in their craft.

The event's success underscores the enduring power of storytelling to connect, educate, and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the Pacific region.

By Talaia Mika 14 April 2024, 10:00PM
Samoa Observer

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