A clip from the award-winning Aux Enfants de la Bombe documentary.
Report – By Thibault Marais in Pape’ete
A film dedicated to the life of an engineer who worked for the French nuclear programme in Algeria and the Pacific for 30 years and died of throat cancer has won the top prize at the recent 10th Oceanian Film Festival (FIFO) in Tahiti.
The jury unanimously awarded the Grand Prix to the 52 min documentary entitled To the Bomb’s Children (Aux Enfants de la Bombe), jury president Greg Germain announced.
This film, made by French directors Christine Bonnet and Jean-Marie Desbordes with a team of young French Polynesian technicians. tells the story of French nuclear engineer Bernard Ista who kept filming the tests during his career – in spite of official bans, ultimately dying at the age of 54.
One of the producers invited for the award ceremony said he wished this film – to be aired on television soon in both French Polynesia and France – would help the French government acknowledge past mistakes about nuclear testing.
Nuclear testing has always been a sensitive issue in French Polynesia ever since it first started in the remote Tuamotu archipelago in 1966.
Nuclear tests went on for 30 years in Moruroa and Fangataufa.
The issue has also often been raised by Tahitian political parties – especially Oscar Temaru’s pro-independence party – over recent years to seek more financial compensation from the French state.
A 2010 law prepared by a French Defence Minister, Hervé Morin, was gave financial compensation to former nuclear testing workers.
Although the law was at first perceived as a step in the right direction, it has also been criticised for not being very efficient.
The list of nuclear-related illnesses and the geographical area concerned by financial compensations should be extended, claim nuclear veteran associations.
The three other special prizes awarded to the jury went to Canning Paradise, by Olivier Pollet, Allan Baldwin by Tearepa Kahi and The Road of the Globe: Troilus and Cressida.
Canning Paradise is about the consequences of overfishing in Papua New Guinea while Allan Baldwin is the portrait of a New Zealand photographer who specialised in Māori tattoos.
The Road of the Globe: Troilus and Cressida tells the story of Māori comedians about to take part in a Shakespeare Festival in England.
The award chosen by the FIFO public went to a film made by Australian director Catherine Scott, Scarlet Road, about sex workers for disabled persons.
Thibault Marais is director and editor of Tahiti News.