Tuesday, February 3, 2009

John Scott post-coup doco scores another award

IT'S HEARTENING to see New Zealand filmmaker and associate professor Annie Goldson and her team raking in the kudos for a poignant and challenging doco about Fiji politics, the gay rights community, ethics and human rights. It has just picked up the Grand Prix award at the sixth Pacific Documentary Film festival in Tahiti. An Island Calling is far more than a film about a particularly gruesome and high profile double murder. Based, in part, on the book by Owen Scott, Deep Beyond The Reef, it tells the story of the killing of former Fiji Red Cross director John Scott (Owen's elder brother) and his partner Greg Scrivener in mid-2001 by Apete Kaisau. As Lumière Reader describes it, there is a real irony in the film:
Scott’s great-grandfather was one of the missionaries who brought The Bible to Fiji in the 19th Century. That same Bible was used as a justification by Kaisau to murder Scott and Scrivener. In the process of telling this tale, Goldson draws in issues such as history, colonisation, evangelical Christianity, homosexuality, turning what could have been seen as a simple murder into something much more complex and morally ambiguous.

Following the impressive track record that she has set with other films such as the 1999 documentary Punitive Damage on the killing in East Timor of Kamal Bamadhaj, Goldson told Lumière's Brannavan Gnanalingam:
“I’d always been a bit of a Pacific watcher. Given we live here in New Zealand I’ve always been interested in the politics of the region. Fiji is one of the hotspots of the Pacific.”

Goldson's awareness of John Scott emerged during the 2000 coup by maverick businessman George Speight, when he risked his life to deliver aid to the hostages - including Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry - held by the coup leaders. After causing a stir at New Zealand film festivals last year, Goldson has now won the coveted Pacific award. This year, apart from the Grand Prix, the festival awarded three special awards to River of No Return (Darlene Johnson,
Australia), Sevrapek City (Emmanuel Broto and Fabienne Tzerikiantz, France), The Oasis (Sascha Ettinger-Epstein and Ian Darling, Australia), and a special prize from the public to Marquisien, mon frère (Marquisian, My Brother, Jacques Navarri-Rovira, France, French
Polynesia). Image: John Scott in filmmaker's promo picture.

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