Movie Lover Or Ugly American? Fiji Film Frenzy! Reel Paradise!

Welcome once again to a slice of paradise!


I love documentaries that explore unique cultures, and also show how cultures can sometimes clash…here is one amazing example:

reel paradise

Reel Paradise

This is the fascinating story of Independent film executive John Pierson…Pierson is a passionate cinema enthusiast who has written books on maverick filmmakers – including the bestseller “Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes”.

spike mike slackers and dykes

Pierson also helped produce a number of independent films, including early works by Spike Lee, Michael Moore, and Richard Linklater. In 2003, he got fed up with life and moved his entire family to Fiji!

reel paradise

Pierson and his family took over an abandoned movie theater, and began showing free movies at the 288-seat 180 Meridian Cinema, in remote Natokalan Village on the island of Taveuni.

reel paradise documentary

During the final month of their year-long stay in Fiji, indie-film gurus John and Janet Pierson and their two children host a documentary film crew. Here is the trailer to this fascinating documentary:

John Pierson

Sounds idyllic, right? Well, in fact, NO.

Reality intrudes in paradise: their home is burgled, the local Catholic priest criticizes John’s project, their daughter’s behavior may be threatening the reputation of her friend, and John’s prickly personality is captured on film…

reel paradise

This is a fascinating movie: he is clearly a passionate movie buff, and his goal was to bring the world of film to these people…but the entire family comes off looking very bad at times in the film…they seem to exude an attitude of superiority about the locals – again, an “Ugly American” vibe…

reel paradise


Look at just one of the many reviews that were posted on forums….they all sing a similar tune: “When this movie started, I expected to love it. It encompasses two of my favorite things – movies and the South Pacific. The idea of moving to Fiji to show free movies to the locals for a year and living in the Fijian culture – WOW! What a job! Unfortunately, John Pierson doesn’t appear interested in want to become part of the Fijian culture. He wants to be the great white daddy that can’t even show movies if his projectionist doesn’t show up – he doesn’t know how to run the projector in his own movie theater! His statement when leaving the island – “Well, they’ll miss us. And they’ll miss the movies”. What about him missing them, the life style, the culture?”

reel paradise

Check out “Reel Paradise” – the family bravely put themselves in the spotlight in this film, and without a doubt they got burned a bit by that…but their love of film, and eagerness to explore a new culture comes through as well – and perhaps had they been filmed in the first month of their stay – rather than the last – it might come across differently…

reel paradise theater

There is a lot of joy watching the locals enjoy “Jackass” and classic movie comedies…but there is an underlying sense of resentment between both sides as well…

reel paradise

And while the family bravely put themselves in front of the cameras, it’s also a bit off-putting as well, because they come across as a bit angry that they weren’t able to “educate the locals…” watch it and tell me what you think!


Categories: documentary films, Movies, Movies About Movies, Obscure Movies, Travel, Travel Memoir, Uncategorized

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  1. Movie Lover Or Ugly American? Fiji Film Frenzy! Reel Paradise! | Home Far Away From Home

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