This year, the Berlinale special presentation NATIVe − A Journey into Indigenous Cinema will pass review and at the same time turn its glance towards the future. The Arctic Circle, last year’s regional focus, will give way to the newly selected focus region for Indigenous film-making: the countries and islands bound together by the vast Pacific Ocean.
Climate change is the most obvious link between the two seemingly very different regions: Melting ice masses are among the leading causes of the rising sea level, which threatens the whole Pacific region, including the island nations and regions of Polynesia, Melanesia/New Guinea and Micronesia, along with their primarily Indigenous populations. But climate change is not the only regional commonality. Industrialisation, the repression of Indigenous languages and cultures, forced relocations and other long-term effects of colonising practices still have consequences for both the peoples of the Arctic regions and the cultural areas in and around the Pacific.
The documentary film MA'OHI NUI, au cœur de l’océan mon pays (MA'OHI NUI, in the heart of the ocean my country lies) clearly outlines one form of colonial aggression specific to the Pacific region: From 1966 to 1996, France ran an intensive nuclear testing programme across French Polynesia. The film shows the catastrophic effects on the region’s environment and on the health and social structures of the Ma'ohi people. NATIVe will celebrate the documentary’s world premiere.
The destructive effects of centuries of colonial repression are also illustrated in Anastasia Lapsui’s and Markku Lehmuskallio’s poetic, activist film Fata Morgana, and in the short film Three Thousand by Asinnajaq. In one striking scene in Fata Morgana, the children of the Chukchi explain how they must choose new Russian names for themselves at school so that their Russian teacher can pronounce them better. And the narrator in Three Thousand, an evocative tapestry of animated images and archival material, comments: “My father was born in a spring igloo − half snow, half skin. I was born in a hospital, with jaundice and two teeth.”
Taking a stand is one of NATIVe’s trademarks − and one that curator Maryanne Redpath emphasises: “NATIVe shows films that illustrate, again and again, that colonialism is not a phenomenon of a bygone past. Indigenous peoples suffer from the disastrous effects of colonising practices to this day, it is on-going. But Indigenous cinema also consistently testifies to immense resilience and the quest for independence.”
As in previous years, there will be a number of talks and special presentations around the core film-programme.
The panel discussion “Establishing Indigenous Cinema” will continue NATIVe’s long-standing and successful collaboration with the Embassy of Canada. The industry talk, in which film professionals will discuss the role of Indigenous cinema within the global film scene, will be followed by a screening of the short film programme Reel Kanata VI.
For the second time, NATIVe will be hosting an event together with the Helmholtz Climate Initiative Regional Climate Change (REKLIM) at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research and the DEKRA University of Applied Sciences Berlin. At “Indigenous Life and Global Climate Change − From Polar Regions to Pacific Islands. From Melting Sea Ice to Sea Level Rise” scientists and film-makers will take a closer look at the dramatic consequences of global warming and its regional effects in scientific talks, film screenings, and panel discussions.
Furthermore, Berlinale Special will present the international premiere of the Australian documentary film Gurrumul. The screening will take place at Haus der Berliner Festspiele in cooperation with NATIVe. Gurrumul is an intimate portrait of the life and musical career of the late Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the internationally celebrated blind Aboriginal singer who masterfully combined rhythms and melodies of his people, the Yolngu, with contemporary western music.
Feature-length Films at NATIVe:
By Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio, Finland 2005
Through a mesmerizing mix of filmic and storytelling styles, legendary film-making team Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio recount thousands of years of history of the Chukchi people, from their mythology to the Russian colonisation and the modern-day survival of this culture.
MA'OHI NUI, au cœur de l'océan mon pays (MA'OHI NUI, in the heart of the ocean my country lies)
By Annick Ghijzelings, Belgium 2018
A poetic testimony on the adversities the Ma'ohi have undergone in times of contemporary colonisation, portraying the aftermath of nuclear testing in French Polynesia, and the desire of a people to re-claim their identity.
Short Film at NATIVe:
By Asinnajaq, Canada 2017
By combining historic footage with original animation in a poetic tapestry, Asinnajaq explores her Inuit heritage throughout its entire audio-visual history and beyond, projecting a hopeful future.
January 24, 2018