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Documentary about the people of Easter Island fighting for a sustainable future in the face of development and rapidly growing tourism.
Documentary about the people of Easter Island fighting for a sustainable future in the face of development and rapidly growing tourism.
249 backers pledged $35,182 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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WHAT'S THE FILM ABOUT?

In EATING UP EASTER we follow members of the native Rapanui community on Easter Island as they battle the globalizing effects of a booming tourism industry. Previous films have often sensationalized the “mysteries” of this remote Pacific island known for its moai, massive stone statues. In contrast, this documentary provides an intimate look at the actions of the Rapanui from a native filmmaker’s perspective as they come face to face with the consequences of their rapidly developing island.

WHO WE ARE

Filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu was born and raised on Easter Island and studied film & television production in California. Elena Kouneski Rapu grew up in the Midwest and was an archaeology student when she first traveled to Easter Island 15 years ago. In 2003, we met while spending the summer on the island.

Since then, our joint passion for Easter Island has moved us to share the stories of its people with the world. We currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but travel to the island frequently to work on this film and other projects, guide tours, and spend time with our family there. We now have a young son, Koa, who we brought to the island for the first time last fall to meet his tupuna (ancestors). Even though we are often half a world away, we want to do everything we can to protect this awe-inspiring place for our son.

WHY WE ARE MAKING THIS FILM

Over the years, we have witnessed first hand how the demands of a skyrocketing tourism industry are changing what was once a small, tight-knit, community.

Today, nearly everyone works in tourism. Rental jeeps crowd the narrow streets. The island’s five diesel generators are often overextended trying to power all the new homes, hotels, and restaurants. And the town has become even more dependent on planes and ships to bring in new products from abroad. New products mean more and more trash is generated. Few tourists see this side of the island, even though they are unknowingly involved in it. We wanted to change this — to shed light on the consequences of Easter Island’s popularity as a bucket list destination.

In looking into how to tell this story, we realized many Rapanui friends and family were already consciously guiding the development and trying to integrate new technology with their traditional knowledge. Inspired, we picked up our cameras and started following them during this unique and delicate time on the island.

THE CHARACTERS

The film follows the lives of several Rapanui natives – descendants of the ancient statue builders. Mama Piru leads recycling efforts and organizes coastline cleanups to reduce waste, but she struggles to get her community to participate. Musicians Mahani and Enrique build a cultural center to reunite their divided community. They find an alternative construction material – local trash. But, their dream to provide free music and art classes means they struggle to make ends meet. Sergio, the island’s first native governor and archaeologist, embraces the advantages of development by building new businesses while also working to preserve Rapanui cultural heritage for future generations.

AN ISLAND AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD 

Because Easter Island is one of the most remote places on earth — nearly 2500 miles from any other inhabited land — it is difficult to get things off the island once they arrive. Sending materials to be recycled is very complicated.

But that remoteness can be deceiving. The ocean, once a source of isolation, has now become a highway for the world’s trash to reach the island. And the islander's major food source, fish, are being caught with stomachs full of microplastic particles. Easter Island is not just affected by the actions of its population and the tourists that travel there, it is impacted by the decisions of individuals half a world away.

Globally, we have become dependent on plastic products. Their ease of use and low cost makes them easily disposable. 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year and at least 8 million tons end up in our oceans. And that’s why, in the end, this story isn’t just about a remote island, it’s about all of us.

We ALL need to make changes, for the effects extend to the ends of the earth.

CURRENT STATUS

After 4 trips to the island and 5 long years working nights and weekends, we are almost done! It has been a long road and there are many who have helped us along the way. We’ve received grants and other support from Pacific Islanders in Communications, ITVS, The Ford Foundation, and The Princess Grace Foundation - USA. This film could have not been made without the funds and support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. As such, we will be proudly submitting the film to PBS for national broadcast once it is complete.

In 2015 we partnered with Kartemquin Films to help us finish the film. Kartemquin is a not-for-profit collaborative center for documentary media makers who seek to foster a more engaged and empowered society. Known for producing Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters among over 50 other documentaries, Kartemquin has won almost every available prize for documentary filmmaking, including multiple Emmy, Peabody and DGA awards, and an Oscar nomination.

In 2016 we were invited to the Hot Docs Pitch Forum in Toronto, Canada to pitch the film to a table full of international networks. We got a great response, some good press, and a lot of broadcasters were interested! We have been building steam and are set to finish the film by the end of this year. Here is our rough completion timeline:

  • In September 2017 we will complete a polished draft of the film and will begin submitting it to film festivals and television broadcasters.
  • By December 2017 we will use the funds from this campaign to finalize the film for distribution.

WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

We are raising these funds to finalize the film. This is an expensive process to make our footage look and sound its best and an essential step that needs to happen before the film can play at festivals or on television. If we meet our fundraising goal, the funds will ensure that the film reaches a broad audience, and that is why we have waited until now to ask for your help.

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE SURPASS OUR GOAL: 

Today, more than ever before, we need to stop just talking and start making real changes for our environment. We believe the more people who see others taking action, the more motivated we will all become to make changes in our own lives, in our communities, for our world. This film is one such inspiring message — seek solutions unique to your own community, work hard every day to implement them, and the effects will ripple outward.

The more funds we raise, the faster and further we can spread this message. If we surpass our goal, we will use the funds to hire our editor for more hours to help us complete the film sooner. We will submit the film to more festivals and will build a bigger outreach campaign, taking the film to more cities for screenings and live discussions with some of the characters.

 

REWARDS

In addition to downloads of the completed film we're also offering several Kickstarter-only rewards including a few items sent directly from Easter Island!

POSTCARD - $15

T-SHIRTS - $75

 

RECYCLED PLASTIC MOAI STATUE - $100

ART PRINTS - $250

 

FILMMAKERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Risks and challenges

Independent film can be unpredictable and throughout the five-year journey of making this film we've encountered our fair share of ups and downs. Thankfully we've already completed the most difficult part — shooting the film, and we're now working with a team in post-production who have decades of experience with finishing and releasing films.

Unforeseen circumstances might delay some of the rewards being sent from Easter Island. If that happens we promise to be upfront in our communications with you so everyone understands why any delays might occur and when we expect to ship out specific rewards.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Thank You!

    Special "Thank You" credits in the film + we'll send you updates on the film and our progress through post-production and on the film festival circuit.

    *ALL REWARD LEVELS include these two items

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Easter Island Postcard

    "Thank You" Postcard sent to you from Easter Island.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    Film Download + Extra BTS Content

    Digital download of the film (before anyone else!) + extra behind the scenes content from production.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    1 Ticket to Minnesota Screening

    One ticket to a private screening of the film in Minnesota after it's completed.

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    15 backers
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Eating Up Easter T-Shirt

    Eating Up Easter T-Shirt made from recycled materials here in the USA.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    T-Shirt + Download + Postcard

    Eating Up Easter T-Shirt, postcard sent from the island, a digital download of the film (before anyone else!) + extra behind the scenes content from production.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Recycled Plastic Moai Statue

    Get plastic waste off Easter Island! We've created a method to turn plastic bottles from the island into recycled plastic souvenir statues (moai).

    You'll receive one 5-6” tall recycled plastic statue* along with a digital download of the film.

    *Statue color will vary. Image seen in the narrative is an example of what the final statue will look like. After the film is finished, the machines and molds will be donated to an organization on Easter Island that will continue to produce these to raise money for future sustainability projects.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Art Print

    We'll send you a frameable art print (up to 16"x20") taken on the island during one of our trips, Multiple options available to select after the campaign.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    4 Tix to Screening + Digital Download

    Our film will be entered into film festivals around the world. This reward gets you 4 tickets to a screening of your choice. (travel not included)

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    Four Hours With Our DP!​

    Jeff​ Saunders, an award-winning Director of Photography ​with more than 20 years of experience, will donate 4 hours of his time as either a still photographer or director of photography to a project of your choosing. Includes with a Sony FS7 or Canon 5d camera. Limited to projects being created in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and dependent on his availability.​
    (Market value - $1,500)

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Easter Island Tour

    2-day tour of Easter Island's archaeological sites with one of the creators of the film as your guide. In addition, you will meet one of the characters in the film, tour the sustainable Toki Music School built by Mahani & Enrique, and visit the recycling facility on the island. (Travel + Accommodations not included) Dates to be coordinated with backers.

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Funding period

- (29 days)