At the end of August I met with a man who lent his insight and experience in fundraising in reviewing the proposal for Spirit of Tivaevae. I learned a lot of useful, practical things during the meeting, but one of the biggest takeaways was that I needed to tweak what we’re doing here.
After I shared my vision for the film, he looked at me and said, “so at the end of this you ultimately want to see a revival of the art, right?” I was caught totally off guard. Up to that point, I’d never verbalized it because it seemed a little lofty and a little pretentious to say that I wanted to kick start a tivaevae revival…but secretly that is exactly what I wished for!
The end goal of all this work and research is not to make the documentary. The end goal is for the documentary to inspire people to get excited about making their own tivaevae.
That shift in tone is a small but important one.
So far, everything that we’ve published and spoken about in regards to making this documentary has been from a preservation standpoint. For example, take this statement: “We need to make this film because we are risk of the knowledge and tradition being lost.” Documenting the information and wisdom of our tivaevae artists is absolutely critical. It’s fundamental to the film and movement. However, simply preserving the information is not going to cut it.
If the overwhelming audience reaction after watching Spirit of Tivaevae is a passive “well, that was very interesting, how sad nobody wants to make tivaevae anymore” then we’ve failed the main point.
We need to create a movement so that tivaevae can grow and flourish as an art form. The reaction to visiting this website, reading the newsletter, (and eventually, watching the film) should be “how quickly can I get a needle, thread, and some fabric?!”
Does that sound a bit lofty? Perhaps. A bit pretentious? Maybe so. But this is what we’re doing. Yes, we’re making a film, but that is part of a bigger dream. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re here to start a revival.
Melodie is the director and producer of Spirit of Tivaevae. Born in New Zealand to a Cook Islander father and American mother, Melodie was raised in the United States. Her family background gives her a unique perspective on being a Pacific Islander raised outside the culture.