Congratulations to Vanuatu filmmaker Jean Pierre Niptik for winning first prize at the Australian High Commission’s tightly contested Namatan Short Film Festival 2019 Finale on Friday 5 July with his short film ‘Taetem Strap’ (Single Parents).

Taetem Strap was one of seventeen original short films entered in this year’s festival program. It is a visually stunning musical featuring original ni-Vanuatu music and heart felt performances. It was filmed in the Manples and Seaside communities in Port Vila. Jean Pierre Niptik won a first prize of Vt200,000 from ANZ Vanuatu as Vanuatu’s top filmmaker this year.

“My film, Taetem Strap,is a musical genre on single parents and their determination to make their children happy. It shows the responsibilities and struggles of looking after children as a single parent.

Coming from a single parent home, I understand the struggles mothers go through with their children when the husband or the father of the child left the home… For my film, I want men to understand how difficult it is to just leave the child and the mother and if men can take the responsibility of the home and look after children,” said Niptik.

Second prize was won by Lester Lowane and his young filmmaking team from Sevenstar for their film Too Late,a family drama with a tragic ending. Thanks to the generous support of Digicel, the team was awarded a brand new Samsung S8+.

“We are a group of six students, and we are cousins. Our ages range from 14 to 19.We’ve been learning filming and photography for a few months from our uncle and aunty whohave background in this area. We thought it would be fun to enter Namatan and put out what we have learnt so far,” said Lowane.

Past winners Matthew Hardwick and Nicky Kuautonga took home third prize for their film Scam. The cautionary tale, filmed in both Port Vila and the Torres Islands, featured original ni-Vanuatu music and netted the team a Samsung J5, thanks to Digicel.

“We partnered together to make this year’s video production. Nicky filmed all our short film and edited the video while I assisted with production by writing the script, preparing actors, film locations, directing and assisting with editing,” said Hardwick.

Seventeen films premiered at the Namatan finale from a diverse range of genres including drama, comedy, action, horror and stop-motion animation. Each film was judged by an expert panel on a number of criteria including originality, creativity, cinematography, sound quality, script writing and editing techniques.

Two of the films were submitted by twelve year olds and many other films were created by young filmmaking teams, as well as seasoned filmmakers and past Namatan winners.

For the first time, the Namatan Short Film Festival featured a school category. The Risk claimed first prize for filmmakers Dale Abel and Elija Talo and won a laptop for the Tebakor High School courtesy of the Australian High Commission.

“Hearing the Namatan through the radio on the way to school was where I felt the urge to make a short film. Through the Namatan it has given each individual to push themselves to new things/skills which can really make a change for them in their career as they further continue their life,” said Dale Abel.

“I was really impressed with the quality of the films submitted for Namatan this year and the range of stories they told. I hope the filmmakers will continue to produce high quality films to tell local stories and encourage them all to return for Namatan 2020,” said Jenny Da Rin, Australian High Commissioner.

Namatan finale audiences had the opportunity to vote for the Namatan People’s Choice Award, with the winner to be announced following more community and school screenings on Efate, Tanna, Santo and Malekula thanks to the support of Air Vanuatu.

A Namatan People’s Choice Award announcement will be made in August with the winner taking home the prize of a Samsung Tablet thanks to Digicel. Follow the Australian High Commission Vanuatu’s Facebook page for more information about more screening dates and locations.

Namatan’s partners, the Australian High Commission and the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation, with festival sponsors ANZ Vanuatu, Digicel and Air Vanuatu, would like to thank all those involved in making this year’s festival a success.

Namatan means ‘eye’ and the festival’s slogan is “Ae blong yu, lukluk blong mi” which roughly translates to “your vision, my understanding”. The film festival provided an important opportunity for young ni-Vanuatu to speak on a range of issues which affect their daily life including social issues, politics and development.