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TV Documentary Exposes Fiji Tuna Industry

SUVA (FLP): A documentary produced by Labour Party senator 'Atu Bain in the deposed coalition government has been screened on the Australian television network SBS.

In the Name of Growth, made by New York Festivals/UNESCO gold medal winners 'Atu Emberson-Bain and Michael Rokotuiviwa Preston, was broadcast on August 4. It has yet to be broadcast in Fiji.

According to producer/director 'Ms Bain, SBS has bought the exclusive rights for Australian television screening of the documentary for three years. Special subtitling has been prepared to meet the needs of the hearing impaired.

"This is a real breakthrough to have the film screened internationally and we are thrilled, especially after the huge obstacles we faced during production," she said.

Promotion of the film on the SBS website states that In the Name of Growth "highlights the struggle of the unsung heroines of development in Fiji, the women who skin, clean, cut and can Pacific tuna for the export markets of Canada and Europe at the PAFCO fish cannery in Levuka …

"It focuses on the lives of Fijian women cannery workers, caught in the interweaving webs of the global economy, tradition, and local politics".

The premier of the hour-long documentary was held in Levuka, Ovalau, on 15 May 2000. The following day, close to 2000 people from the island saw the film during nine free public screenings.

The film led to chiefs from the island, Ratu Mai Bureta, Ratu Qavo and Nayavulagilagi Qalovi, calling on the PAFCO management to improve the employment conditions of the women.

At the Suva launch on May 17, the Roko Tui Bau and former Judge, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, spoke about his involvement as arbitrator in an industrial dispute that is documented in the film.

"The struggle by these women continues. Some of them were dismissed in 1996 and I was involved in the dispute as arbitrator. They have had little support from other unions and civil society groups. …One has to admire their dignity and strength as well as wonder about the politicians who bleat constantly about indigenous rights. Yet they do little about the plight of these very women whose cause they ought to champion.”

Ratu Joni said that the film is "a classic piece of storytelling … It is above all 'Atu’s salute and gift to the women of PAFCO - a tale she lovingly shares with the audience".

A review in the Fiji press suggested that "the film should be made compulsory for all students of economics and development in the Pacific, for it explores the effects both good and bad, development has on social structure".

In the Name of Growth highlights the clash between growth-driven development in the style of the World Bank and the traditional values of a needs-based subsistence economy.

It exposes the reality behind the rhetoric of indigenous rights and the irony of an indigenous state-owned company that becomes increasingly intolerant of 'culture' because this is seen to be inimical to profitable operations.

In January this year Emberson-Bain and Preston won a gold medal from the New York Festivals and UNESCO for their documentary Where the Rivers Meet. The medal was awarded for excellence in television programming.

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE: http://www.pmw.c2o.org


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