AWC 2022-2023 Cohort Announced
May 6, 2022
(L-R) Alexis Si’i, Veialu Aila-Unsworth, Pumehana Cabral, Lauren To’omalatai,
Peter Filimaua, Misa Tupou (Photo by Kiki Rivera, Courtesy of Visual Communications)
MEET THE NEW ARMED WITH A CAMERA FELLOWS
Alexis Si’i is a Mexican-Samoan documentary filmmaker from Santa Ana, California. She expects to graduate from UCLA with a Master’s degree in ethnic studies in the Spring of 2022. At UCLA, Alexis dedicates her research to uplifting the stories of those in the pacific islander community through her documentary work. She looks forward to learning from her mentors and peers at Visual Communications, as they guide her and her work. Alexis plans to continue creating documentaries about her community as a “Armed with a Camera” fellow once she graduates from UCLA. She also hopes to begin teaching at her local community college to teach and support first generation college students.
Lauren To’omalatai is a Sāmoan storyteller and community organizer based out of Salt Lake City, Utah on unceded Eastern Shoshone and Goshute land. She currently serves as the Director of the Utah Pacific Island Film Series which has focused on showcasing and supporting the work of Pacific Island filmmakers since 2016 and established its own film festival, the Māsima Film Tour amidst a pandemic.
Lauren’s writing has seen her considered for such programs as The Black List’s Inaugural Episodic Lab (2018) and she was named as a participant for imagineNATIVE’s 3rd Annual Screenwriting: Features Intensive (2021) completing a screenplay for an original feature length horror film.
Outside of film, Lauren has dedicated her time to working with Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources, a non-profit organization focused on providing opportunities to improve the livelihood of Pacific Islanders in Utah through the Arts, Business, and Education with its roots in Violence Prevention. Lauren continues to nurture her talent for writing and other creative pursuits rooted in community.
Misa Tupou is a graduate from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and the University of Auckland. In theatre, his focus is on Mask Performance and Physical Theatre. With filmmaking, he has a keen interest in limited or non-dialogue storytelling. In addition, he loves capturing pieces on sport as well as on art and cultural stories. To view some of his stories, please visit www.misatupou.com. In education, he has taught Creative Drama at the Manoa Campus of The University of Hawaiʻi and Beginning Acting at Kapiʻolani Community College. He has also guest lectured on the topic of Pacific Islanders in Theatre and Film in Aotearoa New Zealand throughout the University of Hawaiʻi system. For the Department of Education he taught a mask performance component for their Art Mobile programme. In the community, Misa co-founded and directed the Oʻahu Fringe Festival and was a co-founder of the Aotearoa New Zealand Film Festival in Honolulu. As a performer he has acted on various theatre and film productions in both New Zealand and Hawaiʻi.
Peter is a 24-year-old filmmaker of Mexican and Samoan descent from Diamond Bar, California, and currently pursuing an MFA in Film and Television Production at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He believes in the mantra of dreaming big and working hard. From a young age, he was an avid film fan and was inspired by films like Lord of the Rings, The Dark Knight, and King Kong. Passionate about his craft, he is dedicated to telling underrepresented stories that will inspire the next generation of filmmakers. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Media Production and Film Studies from Pepperdine University in 2019. His short film, Prideful Boxing premiered in the short film corner at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
Pumehana is a proud Kanaka ʻŌiwi whose life centers around social justice & community building – specifically with other māhū and BIPOC folks. Pume runs their own business that encompasses journalism, documentary film production, project management, and ’āina-based education. They believe that collaborative, creative work is pivotal to long-term social change in Hawaiʻi and beyond.
Veialu Aila-Unsworth is a writer/director of mixed heritage from Papua New Guinea (Kairuku, Central Province) and British-New Zealand. Her work explores the complexities of underrepresented females finding their voice in the world. Her screenplay, The Defiant One, was chosen for the 2021 CAPE List, a curated list of 10 feature screenplays centering on Asian and Pacific Islander stories. Her animated short film, Blue Willow, screened at over twenty-seven festivals including the Berlin Film Festival. Veialu is also an award-winning television creative director/producer and worked with Australia’s largest television Networks, NINE and TEN. She is developing a feature documentary about a Papua New Guinean activist on a quest to protect a sacred river.