Straight Outta the Pacific

Me in the Grand Canyon, trying to get zen for PFF before it all gets real.


Eli here, Operations Manager for PFF writing from Honolulu, Hawaii. Ive been in the United States now for the last 2 and a half weeks. My sister and I have been through LA, Salt Lake City, The Grand Canyon, Boston, New York City, Washington DC and back to New York City. Now Im in Honolulu with friends reflecting on the good times Ive had so far. There are a couple of things that have stuck with me.

The first was the film, Straight Outta Compton. My sister and I made a point of watching it in Los Angeles because we arrived in the country the day it was released. We wanted to go as far as finding somewhere in Compton to watch, but decided it would be best to view it from the comfort of Hollywood Boulevard and not try to be all the way gangsta.

Watching 'Straight Outta Compton' in LA. Snapped this photo and sent it to my younger cousin. He told me I suck.

We were pretty impressed with the film. Usually I’m skeptical about bio-pics, especially if people represented are still alive, but SOC does alright. The best thing about it for me was the way it depicted issues surrounding police brutality against the black community in Los Angeles during the 1980s and 90’s. In my opinion, the film was a well-structured representation of an artistic group who belonged to this community and responded to their circumstances, in the process goading a musical movement, in gangsta rap.

The second and related thing that has stood out for me, has been how people in different parts of the USA understand what Pacific Islanders are. Walking down the street in Los Angeles, people seem pretty familiar with us. Similarly, we are known communities in Utah, Washington and Alaska. At 2 am in the morning on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City however, my cousins and I were pretty chuffed to have a guy ask if we were Polynesian and guess correctly that we were Samoan. Granted he had to be from California and best friends with a Samoan to know, but it was cool to have a Nicaraguan, yell ‘aiga’ and ‘tokouso’ at us anyway.

My cousins and I with Chalo, the Nicaraguan with all the Poly slang.

Experiencing this and watching the storytelling in SOC is inspiring me to make the Pasifika Film Fest the best and most long lasting film festival it can be. Imagine if more people knew the above Polynesian idioms like 'tokouso' the same way they knew what N.W.A stands for. Imagine if you walked past a tour guide in Rome and they didn't assume you were Spanish speaking (I speak from experience). Imagine that you told someone in Ireland that you were Pacific Islander and they didn't wonder why you were so small because all they knew about us is big burly rugby players.

This film festival is part of this movement, showing the world how diverse the Pacific community is, one film at a time. We've got our final deadline coming this week and we feel like there are even more Pacific stories out there waiting to be seen, so please send them through. Doesn't matter how no frills you think your project is, it's always worth giving it a crack. Our late deadline is on the same day as the release of Straight Outta Compton in Australia. If you're of age make sure you remember this when you're watching 'Eazy E' record his first lyric.

Mahalo nui loa, E

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