A Japanese film crew visited Aitutaki, Cook Islands earlier this month (Jan 19-27) to make an educational film about voyagers past.
Studio UMI is a documentary production studio based in Japan.
The film crew of nine, headed by executive director Osamu Monden with second-in-charge director Kyoko Miyazawa filmed the short educational movie called ‘Great Voyagers’ on the pristine island.
The crew intends to make a 15 minute film that tells the history of human migration throughout the Pacific islands by canoes in ancient times. The film will have a mixture of documentary, drama and computer graphics.
After researching several locations, Aitutaki was found to be the most suitable filming location because of its scenery – as well as double hull canoe Te Vaka Te Au o Tonga being available.
Cook Islands master carver Mike Tavioni was also involved in the shoot – Miyazawa had read about Tavioni’s skills while in Japan and contacted him to be involved in the project on her previous trip to the Cooks.
Tavioni took two days to make the model vaka out of five different types of wood.
It was used in a scene where a grandfather tells his grandson about his ancestors’ navigational adventures. The crew are finding Cook Islands actors while in Aitutaki – even searching local primary schools to find the perfect budding actor.
The film will be shown free of charge at the Oceanic Culture Museum in Okinawa, Japan – where collections such as traditional canoes from the Pacific region have been exhibited since 1975. The Ocean Expo Park – which houses the museum – attracts more than three million visitors annually from Japan and abroad.
The film aims to raise awareness about the history and culture of the Pacific people among the museum’s visitors – and at the same time promote the landscape, ocean, vaka and navigational skills of the Cook Islands.
The filming project is fully funded by Studio UMI. Cook Islands Tourism Corporation is providing support with some ground logistics.