Between two worlds: The forgotten voices of Oceania

As the founding director of the Pasifika Film Fest, it has been my long-term objective to create a Pasifika Film Industry that brings the stories of the ‘South Seas’ to the cinematic screen. I believe the time is right for the forgotten voices of Oceania to be heard, with the Australian Government’s push to secure soft power in the region underlining the Pacific’s awakening from decades of disregard.

The passing of my grandmother last year inspired me to become one of the human voices with stories to tell of the Pacific and to return to my place behind the camera lens. As soon as I uncovered one fascinating tale, another emerged, a depthless treasure box of historical anecdote, adventure and intrigue. But let’s start with this one.

In September this year, my family will return my grandparent’s ashes to the family cemetery in New Guinea, a highly complex inter-cultural event that has been in negotiation for over a year. I am currently embedded in the local community and aim to produce a feature documentary film of the Minamai (Burial Ceremony) as the central event through which a number of other fascinating connected stories are explored.

The story will travel across Oceania and through Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Australia and include Pacific Ways of storytelling such as song, dance and Tatau.

I am still in the ‘research and development’ phase but will very quickly need to be moving into production phase as September is fast approaching and there is much to capture here on the ground even before then. Time is critical now if this is going to become a reality. All we are missing to make this happen is sufficient funding.

The aim is to fund a top-notch crew to help me capture and deliver this story, and for the doco to be screened in festivals around the world. I have secured the interest of a number of very experienced key professionals willing to become part of the production team, pending funding outcomes.

Some generous funds have begun to come in, but we still need much more to realise the full potential of this story.

This doco is a once in a life-time opportunity; one that I feel guided on by my grandparents, my ancestors and the closely guarded traditions of the local people.

My film (working title “Between Two Worlds”) is now featured on the Documentary Australia Foundation website which was set up to help independent documentary filmmakers raise money to produce their films with support from Philanthropic funders.

The money received through this crowdsourcing campaign will fund professional film crew to produce a high-end product for theatrical release on film festival circuits and broadcast, travel expenses and accommodation, services on the ground in Papua New Guinea, equipment hire and post-production services.

Kalolaine Fainu

Kalolaine Fainu


Kalolaine Fainu is the founder and Director of the Pasifika Film Fest and won the 2016 NSW Council for Pacific Communities Best New Business Award. The Festival began in 2013 to encourage discussion of cultural identity and represent the diverse peoples of the Pacific.