Sami van Ingen and Mika Taanila
Directed by Robert and Frances Flaherty, the silent film Moana (1926) depicted the life of a village community once considered primitive by Westerners on a paradise island in the Pacific. In our film, Flaherty’s youngest daughter Monica returns to the scene of her early childhood 50 years later with the intention of trying to understand what had happened at the time – by building the perfect soundtrack for her parents’ controversial classic.
The starting point for us making Monica in the South Seas was a discovery of a largely unseen body of archival material relating to Monica Flaherty’s soundtrack project, to which Sami van Ingen was granted exclusive access to after Monica passed away in 2008.
Our intention from the start was to use solely archival material to tell the story of how Monica dived head-first into her chaotic project. How she revisited and daydreamed her own past while doing so and how she succeeded in creating, in the end, an astounding sound version to her parents’ silent film.
Through Monica Flaherty’s project we see how remembered reality is captured and essentially understood through technological innovations: reminiscing over old photographs, showing film clips to trigger details, recording one’s own voice on dozens of cassettes while working.
The material dates from the 1920s to the early 1980s, bringing to the forefront perceptible changes in methods of representation, attitudes towards nostalgia and exoticism of the other, questions that have constantly evolved in the discourse around documentary filmmaking.
Having a seminal documentary classic as a backdrop for Monica in the South Seas has enabled us to create a dynamic intercourse between film history in the making, timeless questions about the truthfulness of documentary film and Monica Flaherty’s obsessive reconstruction of her childhood paradise.
Sami van Ingen, Mika Taanila
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Sami van Ingen, Mika Taanila. M.: Mika Taanila con Sami van Ingen. Int.: Monica Flaherty, Ricky Leacock, Sarah Hudson, Le’iataualesa Vaiao Ala’ilima, Pe’a Taule’ale’ausumai, Fa’agase Su’a-Filo. Prod.: Jussi Eerola per Elokuvayhtiö Testifilmi Oy. DCP. Bn e Col
If you like this, we suggest:
Veljko Vidak and Sylvie Pialat
THE CELLULOID CLOSET
THE CELLULOID CLOSET
Daniele Del Pozzo (direttore artistico Gender Bender Festival)
Ali Catterall and Jane Giles