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Pacs 492                     HAWAII AND THE PACIFIC IN FILM

Fall 2004


Venue:  Moore Hall 155A, University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa

Instructor:  Professor Vilsoni Hereniko

Time: Wed.    1.30 – 4.20pm.

Office Hours: Whenever, Moore Hall 212

Phone number: 956-2658

E-Mail: vili@hawaii.edu



Although film and video play an important part in our lives, rarely are we given the opportunity to critically evaluate what we see, or to learn how to interpret what we see.  In the last two decades or so, the number of feature films and documentaries made by or about Pacific Islanders has increased significantly.  However, unlike books, feature films and documentaries are usually ignored by academics, and thus denied the critical scrutiny they deserve. When used, they are often treated as supplementary material, interesting but peripheral.  This course is designed to make film and video a central focus of inquiry for students interested in Pacific Studies and/or films about the Pacific.


Course Objectives

This course will survey the history of filmmaking in and about the Pacific. Both influential American as well as alternative films (indigenous or otherwise) will be considered. We will emphasize the shifting, cultural and rhetorical contexts in which films are produced, distributed, and interpreted. Students will be encouraged to critically evaluate what they view in class and to think about the forces that influence the production of certain narratives and images and the impact of film and video on the popular imagination in Hawai`i, the Pacific, and beyond. Readings that challenge or complement the views and biases of the filmmakers, material from other media, and guest speakers are an integral part of the course.



At the end of the course, students should be able to do the following:


  1. Explain the history and evolution of filmmaking in the Pacific.
  2. Understand important cinematic concepts, trends, and conventions.
  3. Discuss the intersections of filmmaking, colonialism, and representation.
  4. Interrogate the social roles of Hollywood and independent filmmakers.
  5. Critically analyze and discuss films in a social setting.
  6. Write about films intelligently.



Students will meet once a week throughout the semester to discuss the film(s) assigned for the week (except for 23 September and 4 November) and to view a film or clips of several films. Attendance is compulsory.



Course Outline


Part I:   Hollywood’s Representations of the Pacific


26 August, 2004

Orientation and Introduction to course


2 September

Assigned Film: White Shadows in the South Seas

Recommended: Hawai`i on Screen, Bird of Paradise, Tabu, Moana, South of Pago Pago


9 September

Assigned Film: Mutiny on the Bounty

Recommended: Blue Hawaii, Waikiki Wedding, Song of the Islands, Pagan Love Song


16 September

Film: South Pacific

Recommended: Pearl Harbor, Rapanui, Blue Crush, Lilo & Stitch, The Other Side of Heaven

Note: The Cinema Paradise film festival begins this week (17th-23rd.)


23 September

Assigned Film: Choose one feature from the Cinema Paradise Film Festival.

Recommended: The instructor will recommend certain films to see at the Cinema Paradise Film Festival the week before.

Note: There won’t be a formal class this week - you are expected to see as many films during the festival as possible and to attend after-film discussions.


Part II:  Re-imagining the Pacific


30 September

Film: Utu

Recommended: The Quiet Earth, The Piano


7 October

Film: Once Were Warriors

Recommended: Whalerider, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, Jubilee, Two Cars One Night


14 October

Film: Sons for the Return Home

Recommended: Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree; O Tamaiti, Sinalela


21 October

Film: Tukana

Recommended:  Tinpis Run, Cowboy and Maria in Town


28 October

Assigned Film: Beyond Paradise

Recommended: The Ride, Goodbye Paradise, Picture Bride


Note: The Hawaii International Film Festival begins this week (28th October-11th Nov.)



Part III:  Indigenous Cinema


4 November

Assigned Film: Choose one feature from the Hawaii International Film Festival

Recommended: Your instructor will recommend certain films for you to see the week before.

Note: There won’t be a formal class this week - you are expected to see as many films during the festival as possible and to attend after-film discussions.


18 November

Assigned Film: Mauri

Recommended: Tukana, Te Rua, Ngati, Radiance, Beneath Clouds


2 December

Assigned Film: Pear ta Ma On Maf: The Land Has Eyes

Recommended: Kailiauokekoa, The Maori Merchant of Venice


9 December

Evaluation, Review of course, potluck, and a celebration of films from around the world.  All students will have the opportunity to screen and discuss a short clip of their favorite scene from a movie.


16 December 

Final Examination. Same classroom, from 2pm - 4pm.



Attendance: 10%

Oral Presentation: 20%

Film Reviews:  50%

Final Examination: 20%



Attendance:  Every two late arrivals (turning up after the instructor has started the class) will count as an absence. A percentage will be taken off for each absence from class without a valid excuse (the instructor decides this).


Oral Presentation:  Beginning on 9 September, two students (per session) will have an opportunity to speak to the class about their review of one of the recommended films. The whole presentation should last no more than thirty minutes. Film clips should last no more than 10 minutes in total. Each pair will be graded on the quality of their preparation, the effectiveness of their presentation, and how well they worked together.


Film Reviews: Students will be required to write a review of three of the films screened in class (one from each of the three parts of the syllabus) and one film viewed during the Cinema Paradise Festival and one other during the Hawaii International Film Festival. (Note: There are five assignments in total) Each reaction paper should be 3 to 5 pages, typed and double-spaced. You will be graded on organization, content, and language. Hand in your assignment during class on the week following the screening of the film reviewed or by 4.30pm on that day. No late assignments will be accepted - don’t ask for an exception.

Note: Any student who engages in cheating, plagiarism, or a recycling of written materials will receive a zero for that assignment and/or an F (D) for the course.


Examination: Students will be expected to answer an essay question that will test in-depth knowledge of the main concerns of this course. Length – 2 hours.



Grades will be assigned as follows:

93-100%          = A                  77-79%     = C+               59% and below = F

90-92%            = A-                73-76%     = C     

87-89%            = B+               70-72%     = C-

83-86%            = B                  67-69%     = D+

80-82%            = B-                 60-66%     = D



The films are the main texts for this course. Students should view the films as often as possible after the initial screening and should purchase a copy of the film if it’s available.


For the first part of the course, there is a text (now out of print) that students will find useful for the first part of the course.


Reyes, Luis

1995                    Made in Paradise: Hollywood’s Films of Hawai’i and the South Seas. Honolulu, Mutual Publishing.


Two other books that students should consult may be found in the Pacific collection of Hamilton Library.


Barclay, Barry  Our Own Image, Auckland, Longman Paul, 1990.


Dennis, Jonathan and Jan Bieringa (eds.) Film in Aotearoa New Zealand, Wellington, Victoria University Press, 1992.


Photocopied readings of articles will be given out in class. These are yours to keep.









Upload: 9/13/2004

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