Title: The Camera’s View From Ashore: Indigenous Authenticity in THE LAND HAS EYES
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Michael Ogden, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Vilisoni Hereniko, the Rotuman director and screenwriter of the 2004 film "Pear Ta Ma ‘On Maf: THE LAND HAS EYES", has stated that "[a]uthenticity in cinema is elusive and difficult to explain or analyse" (2019). To Hereniko, the "…notion that [any representations] of a people or a culture in a fictional film… should be ‘authentic’ is a paradox" (2019), after all, no work of fiction can claim to be completely authentic. The use of “Authenticity” or "authentic" in this context, means real or genuine, and not counterfeit, when applied to Indigenous representations in feature films. There is, of course, an "essentializing" counterforce at play that can compromise Indigenous representations for the sake of entertainment or to make indigenous cultures more accessible to global markets. Thus, the pursuit of authenticity is important for Indigenous peoples because misrepresentations can displace and replace their actual experiences or realities. From the perspective of Indigenous Standpoint Theory (IST), this experience is a "push-pull" between Indigenous and non-Indigenous positions in cinematic storytelling (Nakata, 2007). Using the conceptual framework of IST, this analysis will employ Barry Barclay’s (2015) trope of "the camera ashore", the one held by the Indigenous people for whom “ashore” is their ancestral home, in juxtaposition to "the camera on the ship", representing Western perspectives. By examining the cinematography, mise-en-scéne, and narrative in THE LAND HAS EYES through IST’s “push-pull” of perspectives and Barkley’s camera positions, we learn to recognize, appreciate, and understand the exercise of authentic Indigenous agency within the film’s Rotuman storyworld.
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