Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reel Paradise in Taveuni

A New York couple spent a year in Taveuni showing free movies and making capital of the fact that the International Date Line runs through Taveuni. Last year a documentary came out called Reel Paradise. I wonder what it is like and if the local people are given due respect or made fun of. It is so easy for vavalagis to make judgments and find humour in everyday life in a South Pacific country. I hadn't heard of the film until I accidentally came across it when googling.


Vakaivosavosa said...

I haven't seen reel paradise either. Apparently it was a hit with critics in the US, but not taken very well by a fellow Pacific Islander whose review is on Ano Masima


It not really tailored for us in the islands - more a representation of an island community by a foreigner.


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thanks for the two links. 'Masima' is mad as anything isn't she! It is a pity that the guy who lived in Taveuni for a year didn't even think of the impact of what he was doing, exploiting people who are never likely to even see the documentary about themselves. I wonder sometimes about visas and visitors and permission for outsiders to stay a while in Fiji when their purposes are questionable.
Of course anthropologists like Sahlins did the same sort of thing when he stayed in Moala many years ago and took the kava-circle storis as factual!

Vakaivosavosa said...

Well the Ano Masima review doesn't make me enthusiastic about reel paradise, and I wouldn't pay to see it now.

This is why the Vaka Vuku conference is a giant leap forward in encouraging Pacific Islanders to write and document and imagine themselves, to counter the weight of neo-colonial outsiders' perceptions and reports accepted as gospel truth for so long.

Pandabonium said...

I first heard of this three years ago when K and I were on Taveuni. John, a taxi driver whom I hire everytime I am there, told us about it as we drove past the theater. He is of Indian descent and liked the Bollywood movies that were shown.

At that time, the Piersons had a website with diary-like entries from each of the family members. It quickly became apparent that the whole project was about making a movie, without any sensitivity about or interest in the community they were using. And using is the operative word.

I have not seen the movie and don't want to. I read enough from their own writings. In my opinion, it is just another example of the "ugly American" syndrome that the US should have grown out of decades ago, but has not. It is also a clear demonstration that American culture has nothing to offer the world. It is empty and revolves solely around self interest.

Television productions such as "Survivor" display this as well. Such shows are all about money and the programs may as well be shot on a stage lot as they show little of the locations they use and nothing of the people. That millions of Americans tune in to such rubbish out to tell us something about the current state of the society.