Disclaimer: All the pictures from the island and of the movie production are the intellectual property of Waitiare Icka and I am showing them as a part of my blog under her consent.
Today was a special day for my good friend Waitiare, who had her film Uho te Uka premiered at our campus. This was an extremely interesting project for many reasons the biggest, for a foreigner like me, being of course the fact that it was done in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and that it was done by the islanders themselves. Waitiare herself is a filmmaker from the island studying here in Santiago in my university and we have become friends for having mutual courses. I have obviously been enchanted by the fact that I can study with someone from a place that for me has seemed almost unreal, a place of myth and legend and I guess although most people know Easter Island, few people know much more about it than the Moai statues that resemble a certain ex-prime minister of Finland.
Obviously the films only merit wasn’t the fact that it was shot in an exotic location by exotic people (by our standards), but it was actually a very entertaining 50 minutes with a lot of nice camerawork, beautiful scenery and authentic Rapa Nui atmosphere. Well what do I know about authentic Rapa Nui atmosphere, but if it wasn’t I was certainly fooled. The story was simple, as these orally passed legends usually tend to be, but the story had the warm feeling of having been passed on for generations in the smoky scent of a cosy campfire. I could imagine the village elder or some sort telling this tale to the younglings for entertainment, but also for the underlying wisdom of life it contained. It makes me think about my own culture and our legends, which have been preserved mostly in writing, since Lönnroth and how she is actually doing the same as our own national scholar did in the 19th century going around the countryside collecting the myths that would later become the Finnish national epic Kalevala. Worth mentioning about the movie as well is the beauty of the actors, not the least the protagonist whom with her womanly curves seduces even a turtle from the sea, definitely a treat for any mans eyes.
I am writing this now for two reasons. First of all because it was her premiere night and I want to congratulate her tremendous effort for making her first long (51min) movie and secondly to speak about her upcoming project in which I have been fortunate enough to be slightly involved in. These movies are not just whatever tales shot in an exotic location, but they are actually the oral heritage of the indigenous islanders that she wants to preserve in an audio-visual format. The modern culture reaches its tentacles even to the most remote places on earth and Rapa Nui today is a totally modernized community. As we all know, when old traditions are replaced by cable TV and Internet there is always the possibility they will slowly fade into oblivion. She has realized this danger and with a group of young islanders has started this project to write the myths and legends of the island into screenplays and shoot them, which I think is needless to say a noble and worthy cause. The oral unwritten tradition I think is the most fragile one on the face of the globalized culture of the modern era.
Lastly I want to write a little bit about her upcoming project. The preservation project was never meant to be only one movie, one legend, but a series of videos that would eventually become an audio-visual library to the culture of Rapa Nui. As I am speaking it is the 30th of October and the plan is to shoot a new short film in February 2013. It will be a similar project and I have been told it will have ghosts, so stay tuned. My contribution so far has been to introduce Waitiare to Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects that in my opinion could serve to fund, at least partly, her upcoming production. Shooting a movie is not cheap and many would be surprised of all the costs involved even in the smallest of projects and this is not the smallest of projects by any measurement. In this kind of situation more money basically equals more quality in the technical aspects of the movie, because it allows for more sophisticated equipment, better props and a longer shooting time. I will obviously inform here in my blog when our Kickstarter project has been launchedso that anyone reading my blog and willing to get involved can easily do so. We estimate that it will be about 2 more weeks until we are ready to go live with it.
Once again huge congratulations to Waitiare for completing her first movie project and looking forward to the next success!
PS: There’s a lot of photos of which most I had nothing to do with. To alleviate any misunderstanding I have not been to the island (yet) and was not part of this production in any way.