Media 12 Mar 2019
(Stills from Misadventures of a Pacific Professional and Vai. Pic credit: Top half - Poporazzi Productions, bottom half - Vai Film)
This year's International Women's Day was significant for Pacific women who are making waves in the digital and film space.
A new web series, titled Misadventures of a Pacific Professional was launched last Friday at MIT Manukau campus. The six-part web series focuses on protagonist Alofa Williams, a young Samoan female professional thriving in her corporate role despite the unconscious bias she encounters.
Written by Tupe Solomon-Tanoa'i, who is an international civil servant at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, she recalls the suprising reactions she received when she revealed to her family and friends that she was starting a production company alongside her husband, Esera Tanoa'i.
"I'm pretty sure no one knew that I had a creative bone in my body," she says
"And you'll be forgiven because in the last 13 years we were focused on our careers, raising our two beautiful daughters and making sure we had a roof over our heads."
"But slowly, I started to feel that I had something I needed to say and to quote Maya Angelou: 'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you'"
"That's when I began to write. Firstly, just for myself - to process what I was experiencing at work and it felt so good to have it down on paper."
As a diplomat, Tupe is accustomed to debating, analysing policies and seeking solutions, however she found earlier in her career that she wasn't exempt from facing unconscious bias and noticing the lack of diversity and inclusion - key themes addressed in the series and relevant to all Pacific peoples.
"They're not just buzz words for Pacific people, they experience it on a daily basis and can have an impact on our economic prosperity and our earning power."
"The series is not a finger pointing exercise, we want to start a conversation. Unconscious bias is something we all have, and once we know we have it, it's our responsibility to retrain our brain and think in a different way."
"Through this show, we hope that New Zealanders will understand their Pasifika colleagues more, and we hope that we will be able to contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workforce."
The series now available to watch is directed by Samoan lawyer and TV reporter, Reina Va'ai and features Samoan actress, Lagi Farani.
(PCF Marketing and Communications Manager Suzanne Suisuiki with Tupe Solomon-Tanoa'i who wrote the web series)
A new feature film is also set on sparking conversations around female, this time connecting seven stories from seven Pacific island countries.
Directed by nine female Pacific filmmakers, Vai was shot in Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Kuki Airani (Cook Islands), Samoa, Niue and Aotearoa (New Zealand). The film follows the journey of character Vai, who is portrayed by different indigenous actresses in each of the Pacific countries.
Producers and marketing agency partners of Vai took part in celebrating International Women's Day by hosting 50 Pacific women and girls for a private screening of the film, ahead of the official New Zealand premiere.
Robert Muller of marketing agency, Bright Sunday says that the film has received a lot of positive feedback, particularly from international audiences
"There's an appetite across the globe for the Pasifika stories, following the Berlinale Film Festival where Vai was launched", he says
"We feel that the film will generate a lot of positive conversations across a range of issues pertinent in the Pacific community."
Vai will be screened at the upcoming Māoriland Film Festival on Wednesday 20 March at Otaki prior to its public release in early April.