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.

le 14 juillet

le 14 juillet

May 20, 20192 min read
The 14th of July is a national holiday in France, often called la “fête nationale” or simply “le 14 juillet.” In English, we call in Bastille Day, and it is named for a major event during the French Revolution in 1789. As a French Overseas Territory, this holiday is also celebrated in French Polynesia. These…
Meet the team

Meet the team

May 10, 20193 min read
Teamwork was key to our time in the Marquesas.   While I was mostly finding people to talk to, like Nicolas Haiti and his son Naura inside their coconut oven in Taipivai, Nuku Hiva, Eric Guth (photographer) and Matt Mastrantuono (filmmaker) were never far away.   I’ll admit it: I don’t like drones. From beeping…
Coconut hunting

Coconut hunting

May 1, 20192 min read
Teiki Pao and his horse, Légende, have a route they take through town and out to the forest. Teiki collects coconuts and husks them so the meat can be dried and sold as copra, the dried coconut that helps drive the economy on many French Polynesian islands.   The coconuts that Teiki collects with Légende…
Aakapa’s community blaze

Aakapa’s community blaze

Apr 15, 20193 min read
Everything in Aakapa, on the island of Nuku Hiva, is steep: the hillsides, the shore line, all the roads and driveways. The dried coconut industry, called copra, is important all across French Polynesia, and this village of 120 people is no exception. The municipality of Aakapa invested in a coconut drying oven in 2018 to…
Drying coconut with fire

Drying coconut with fire

Apr 5, 20193 min read
Nicolas Haiti lives in the valley of Taipivai on the island of Nuku Hiva. We heard about him and his family because of their oven. Copra, or dried coconut, is an important industry in French Polynesia, including the Marquesas Islands and here in Nuku Hiva. Coconut is dried and then shipped to Pape’ete, Tahiti to…
Tour de l’ile: Nuku Hiva

Tour de l’ile: Nuku Hiva

Mar 26, 20192 min read
The planning was pretty simple: a conversation between me, Eric, and our local contacts Debora and Kimi. We had a map, a mango, a dog, and a mission. Nuku Hiva has some spectacular hiking trails, and Kimi would take us to them.   Kimi is a life-of-the-party kind of guy, with a zany photo collection,…