Public diplomacy

Democratic dreams win People's Choice at Namatan Short Film Festival in Vanuatu

June 2013

In Vanuatu, the Australian High Commission and the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC) partnered to create the second Namatan Short Film Festival.

The final 13 films of the Namatan Short Film Festival were screened to more than 3,000 people in 17 communities on islands throughout the Vanuatu archipelago. The final films were also shown on national television. The festival attracted widespread media coverage and overwhelmingly positive feedback from government and business, as well as the general public.

Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer was on the judging panel along with Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation (VBTC) Stevenson Liu. Each film had to include a “unique item” to ensure the originality of the film. This year’s item was the Australian aid red kangaroo. This was done to raise the awareness of the symbol of Australia’s development assistance in Vanuatu.

Willie Nampi, whose zombie film “Strange Creatures” was the winner, won an all-expenses paid trip to Melbourne, Australia, for work experience in the television industry. The People’s Choice Award went to Matthew Hardwick for his film “Enkarajmen Blong MP William”, a film about a young boy’s dream to become a member of parliament.

Namatan means ‘eye’ and the festival’s slogan was “Ae blong yu, lukluk blong mi” which roughly translates to “your vision, my understanding”. The film festival provided an important opportunity for young ni-Vanuatu to speak on a range of issues which affect daily their daily life including social issues, politics and development.

The standard of the competition entries was very high, reflecting a strong social media uptake and advanced digital skills among young ni-Vanuatu. New media film technology may “leapfrog” the need for a traditional film industry in Vanuatu where the technology-savvy population are increasingly turning to online and new media production.

Teenagers from Norsup area watch the short films.
Teenagers from Norsup area watch the short films, finalists in the 2013 Namatan short film festival. Photo: Conor Ashleigh © Copyright 2013. Courtesy DFAT.