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Photography (ART 165) students at the American Samoa Community College will have a unique opportunity to explore the connection between stills and moving images when the Fine Arts Department, in collaboration with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), presents an all-day festival of Samoa-and-Pacific-related films this Thursday, April 19th, between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Lecture Hall.


The public is welcome to come and enjoy the lineup of free screenings, which will consist of a mixture of local and regional works along with a selection from PIC, a Hawaii-based funding and artistic development resource organization that serves fledgling filmmakers in the American Pacific.


“The same principles of composition that guide still photography are also employed in moving pictures, only on a higher level,” said ASCC art facilitator Regina Meredith, who also teaches ART 165. “I’m hoping that students who have a knack in the most basic part of the medium, still photography, will be inspired to pursue further study in the more advanced part, filmmaking,” she said.


Meredith emphasized that the festival will offer students and the public a chance to analyze a kind of motion picture slightly different from what they may be familiar with. “The films will be different in nature than what we'd see at the movie theaters, but they were developed in the same way. It illustrates how creativity can drive anyone to express themselves, that it doesn't have to take huge amounts of money, but rather a passion for expression, and sharing something with others. One could look at short films like a painter would look at his/her paintings —they are works of art that carry a message, and the viewer can walk away from the piece feeling many different things.”


Aside from highlighting the technical and stylistic aspects of photography and filmmaking, the works being showcased at the festival also illustrate how Pacific islanders can tell their own stories through this medium.


PIC, founded in 1991, seeks to empower the people of the American Pacific to express themselves through film and video, as stated in their mission to “support, advance, and develop Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture, and contemporary challenges.” PIC helps Pacific Islander stories reach national audiences through funding support for productions, training and education, broadcast services, and community outreach. The organization’s affiliation with ASCC goes back many years, with the College having hosted a number of PIC trainings and film festivals since the 1990s and Meredith currently serving as a member of the PIC Board of Direcors.


Speaking via phone from Honolulu, PIC Interim Executive Director Leanne Ferrer expressed her regrets that the organization cannot attend the upcoming festival, but encouraged Meredith’s use of PIC films for academic purposes.


“Once students have an understanding of the basic elements of filmmaking, the next question they should ask is how they would use this medium themselves,” she reflected. “Would they use it just for entertainment or as a means of defining themselves and their culture to the rest of the world? For what it’s worth, we’ve found that many people in other parts of the world still have either no conception or a misconception of the reality of life in the Pacific, so I would encourage students to think of both photography and filmmaking as a powerful tool for both documenting and defining their own realities and stories.”


The festival will begin at 8:30 a.m. with introductory remarks from Meredith and previews of the day’s lineup. The screenings begin at 9 a.m. with six PIC films: “O a’u o le Taupou” (5 mins.); “Le Malaga” (15 mins.); “Poi Dogs” (10 mins.); “Stones” (20 mins.); “Skin Stories” (1 hr.); and “Moke Action” (6 mins.).


At 11:15 a.m. Micah Van der Ryn of ASCC will screen his work “Tatau: What One Must Do” (29 mins.), which will be followed by the PIC film “The Samoan Heart” (27 mins.) at noon.


At 12:30 local filmmaker Zena Noah Iese will offer a sneak preview of a work in progress titled “Heart to Heart”. Samoa filmmaker Galumalemana Steven Percival will screen a work-in-progress, “Gender Equality in Samoa” at 1 p.m., followed by a question and answer session.


Two more PIC titles, “Ajuma: Are You Crazy?” (26 mins.) and “Black Grace” (1 hr.) will follow, and the final film of the day will be “Turtle And Shark” (5 mins.), a BYU University animated production.


While all screenings are free, patrons are asked to respect the viewing comfort of those already seated if they arrive while the films are in progress.