Last December I had to chance to be part of an exciting project initiated by the Alliance Française here in Suva. As part of the yearly organised “Nuit des idées” or “Night of Ideas” in which all Alliance Française throughput take part and create a project based on the annual theme, the Suva team came up with the idea to produce a short film here in Fiji. The topic for the 2021 Night of Ideas was “Proches” which can be translated to “Closeness“.
Of course, the topic was mainly chosen with COVID in mind but being here in Fiji, the word has a very different meaning. Not having had any local transmission for more than 300 days we live a very different life here than almost the entire world. Life is fairly normal with the only rather odd thing an ongoing curfew from 11 pm-4 am. But no restrictions on gatherings or meetings and we can freely go to the gym or exercise other activities involving several people.
Fiji is an island archipelago consisting of more than 300 islands. And some of these islands are spread hundreds of kilometres apart from each other making travelling between them time intensive and sometimes hard to organise. Although there are several established shipping and ferry routes among the biggest islands, and especially between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, Fiji’s two largest islands, many small ones are harder to reach.
Together with the director of the local Alliance Françcaise Suva, Thomas Feldstein, the deputy director Pauline Ferte and three invited guests we joined one of the ferry trips from Suva on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu to Savusavu on Fiji’s second-largest island Vanua Levu. During the 12 hours boat ride, we did a few interviews and soaked up the general atmosphere. During another day on Savusavu, I recorded the three main interviews with our geology professor Eberhard, our social worker Ana and our musician Zen before flying back to Suva the following. But without taking too much away have a look for yourself about what closeness means in Fiji and how our protagonists see it.
If you took the time to watch, I would love to hear your feedback! Did you enjoy the film? If yes, why? Did you dislike it, and if yes, why? Thanks for watching and stay safe everyone!
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.