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Commonwealth Shorts Workshops

Posted on 31/08/2014
By Commonwealth Foundation

As part of the Belize Festival Kareem led a Commonwealth Writers Screenwriting Clinic, with new writers and directors, Michael Flores, Everette Petillo, Kesha Peyrefitte, Greg Stouffer, and Beverly Swasey.

“In order to be a successful screenwriter you need a community of other writers to support you with the critical feedback necessary to make your best work. I believe the greatest gift of this experience was connecting Belizean based writers with other Belizean writers, all of whom did not know each other prior to this experience.”
Kareem Mortimer

Pacific Voices

"We’ve played a very peripheral role in film since the inception of film. We’ve been present…we’re not really a part of the main story, we’re just background. Which I think has to change."
Dionne Fonoti, Filmmaker

Soon after the filmmakers had completed their 2013 Commonwealth Shorts, they gathered for a private screening of their films in Auckland, New Zealand.  They also participated in a film production lab with eight other filmmakers from the region, addressing the full scope of a film’s development – from idea to distribution.  The production lab was followed by a day’s discussion with members of the wider cultural community in the region, asking ‘How can we take Pacific Stories to a wider global audience?

Here are some short interviews with some of the filmmakers from the workshop:

"Sometimes I feel that globally they’re running out of stories. You hear the same old stuff told in different ways."
Ellen Mesibere
"Storytelling is in my blood, particularly on the southern side, where I come from. Two thousand years of oral storytelling."
Marina McCartney
"I have family members who don’t speak English, but they’ll watch blockbusters because it’s a visual thing – you don’t have to know the language...I feel like I can reach a bigger audience than other types of media."
Ghazaleh Golbakhsh
"I think because our stories haven’t been told: that’s the biggest reason why I want to tell them."
Tamati Ihaka
"Even if you’re in an isolated area, you still have a story to share. Whether you have cameras or not, you can still write something down. Everybody has a unique story."
Jaimee Poipoi
"It’s about creating a language and saying this is how we really talk as Pacific islanders."
Danny Aumua
"I guess film because I love movies."
Dionne Fonoti
"So far the stories that I tell are quite personal to my own experience. Writing what you know…and the stories that I haven’t seen before."
Chantelle Burgoyne


Ellen Meribere is a mother of three who lives in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. During a career spent in the film industry, she has helped develop the quality of television programming in Papua New Guinea. She hopes that the Commonwealth Shorts workshop will be a “wonderful and enriching programme” that will lead to the emergence of young film makers and the production of more regional films.
Marina McCartney is an English-Samoan filmmaker who grew up in New Zealand. An MA graduate in screen production at the University of Auckland, her short films Granda and Milk and Honey have appeared at several international film festivals. In 2011, Marina directed an episode of the UNESCO funded collaborative documentary Ser un Ser Humano, that was screened extensively worldwide. Whilst undertaking a doctorate in film, Marina will work on a documentary Voices of Samoa, and a short film, Going Home.
Ghazaleh Golbakhsh is an Iranian-born film maker from New Zealand, with over eight years’ experience in the film and television industry. She has worked in a variety of roles for Sky, MTV/CBS and Columbia Television in the UK and New Zealand.  In 2012 she studied screenwriting at the University of South California, and undertook an internship at the Sundance Institute. In 2013, she finished her Masters in Documentary at the University of Auckland with her thesis film Iran in Transit which premiered in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ghalazeh blogs about her experience as an international film maker here.
Tamati Ihaka is a Maori film maker from New Zealand. After completing BA in Film and Television at the Waikato Institute of Technology, and an internship with Te Haeata Productions, Tamati made his directorial debut with Maumahara Remember Who You Are, Remember Where You Come From. His second film, Kaitiaki, told the story of a boy inheriting the mana of his ancestor Tohi Ariki and was made in two days with the People of Te Kuiti for the Tropfest short film festival. Tamati has been a writer/director for over two years with his team at the Tokirua Movie Studios. Tamati blogs about his experiences as a film maker and the influence of his Maori roots here.
Jaimee Poipoi is a film student from Hamilton, New Zealand. During ten years travelling and experiencing different cultures, Jaimee worked for a travelling carnival, using her skills as a writer and filmmaker to promote the company to a national and international audience. Since returning to New Zealand in 2011 she has worked on feature films, short films and a music video. Jaimee is a member of Electric Shoelace Productions, a group of New Zealand film makers and animators.
Danny Aumua is a Samoan-New Zealand film maker who lives in Auckland. Danny is a qualified screen writer and has developed scripts for theatre and film for seven years, as well as producing, acting, directing, and editing films. A Creative Producer at TVNZ, he is also a freelance Music Video Director with over 20 music videos to his credit. When he can, he writes and develops his own stories.
Chantelle Burgoyne is a New Zealand-born film maker of mixed European and Samoan descent, particularly interested in telling stories from a Pacific perspective. Chantelle has a BA in Film, TV and Media Studies as well as a BA (Hons) and an MA (Hons) in Screen Production specialising in directing drama from the University of Auckland. She has written, directed, edited and produced three short films:  Sunday’s Child (2010), Sanctuary (2011) and Tatau (2012).