A tropical hilltopview with the ocean at left and a green mountain at right

Welcome to the South Pacific

These short documentary films share personal stories from the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia

Exploring through the power of personal stories

This series delves into Marquesan culture by listening to the stories people want to tell about their lives. From one person to the next, these films explore tradition, colonization, loss, and joy in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia.

Episode One with Debora Kimitete: We visit the sacred site of Koueva on Nuku Hiva, a site dedicated to Debora’s husband, Lucien. He was critical to the resurgence of Marquesan culture, and he disappeared without a trace in an airplane crash in 2002.

Episode Two with Nicolas Haiti: On Nuku Hiva, the Haiti family runs a coconut drying oven that supports the livelihoods of 50 local families. As we watch each step of the process, Nicolas shows us that work, and a sense of home, can be found on the land itself.

Episode Three with Teiki Huukena: From his first tattoo at the age of 14, Teiki has been studying Patutiki (Marquesan tattoo), including the traditional symbols and their correct placement on the body. His own skin is a record of this journey.

Episode Four in Hapatoni: Tehautetua Tauhiro and his family are the cultural guardians of their valley. Through daily activities, art, and music, this generation of leaders demonstrates the power of strengthening culture by sharing it.

A woman with a flower behind her ear sits beneath a banyan tree

Video release! “Meet the Marquesas” films

Jun 29, 20212 min read
Stories are made to be shared, and today I am proud to share my first series of documentary films with you. “Meet the Marquesas” is here! These four short episodes focus on people we met in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia in 2018 and 2019. Our three-person team used a method I have come…
Map book of the world rests on the floor, open to the South Pacific pages.

Pacific Stories: films in process

Jan 15, 20202 min read
Since we first visited French Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands in 2018, we’ve been working on a series of films to share some of the personal stories that people shared with us. The series is taking shape, so here’s a summary of the episodes we are working on … Overview: This series delves into Marquesan…
A little girl dances during a celebration.

Hapatoni and the culture of welcome

Jul 31, 20192 min read
We first visited the community of Hapatoni, on the island of Tahuata, aboard a ship called the National Geographic Orion. The village has a population of about 100 people, and many people of all ages took part in welcoming our vessel. This place made an immediate impression on me, and I resolved to return later…
A mountain range in the South Pacific

Arrivals and departures

Jul 15, 20192 min read
I saw the Marquesas for the first time from the deck of a ship. The hillsides, captured above by photographer Eric Guth, foretold the natural beauty we would experience in this archipelago. One of our first stops, from that ship, was in Hatihe’u, where a group of local performers welcomed us at one of their…
A man stands next to a horse and shows off the traditional tattoos on his upper arm.

A tattooed tour of the islands

Jun 30, 20192 min read
Teiki Pao gathers coconut from the hills of Nuku Hiva. Dried coconut, called copra, is sold to make coconut oil, and it is an important industry here. Teiki works with his horse, Légende, and when I asked Teiki about his tattoos, he told me some of them represent the horse that he spends so much…
Teiki, a man with traditional Marquesian tattoos on his arms, looks down at his work.

Teiki and Patutiki

Jun 15, 20192 min read
Teiki Huukena has dedicated himself to the Marquesan art of tattoo, called Patutiki. He got his first tattoo, designed by his cousin, when he was 14 years old. Since then, his journey to reclaim the traditional symbols and their placement on the body has been written on his skin.   The journey is also represented…