I of the Water:  The Unwritten Life of Sia Figiel

Sia Figiel was the first Pacific Islander to write about Samoan girls, and her novels broke silence on taboos like sexual abuse, violence and suicide. But while bold and open on paper, Sia privately struggles with myriad pains.


At the heart of her anguish is a secret she harbors—a shame she has carried since she was nine. It will take traversing a continent, an ocean, her own memories and even the specter of death before she is ready to speak this shame and in doing so reframe societal notions of abuse, trauma and healing.

Project Status:  In post-production. Filming has taken place in the U.S., New Zealand and Samoa.

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Major funding received from Pacific Islanders in Communications, Atherton Family Foundation, Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, HDS Foundation, Women's Fund of Hawai‘i and the Dolores Furtado Martin Foundation.

The project was selected to participate in the Sundance Institute / Women In Film's Women's Financing & Strategy Intensive, International Documentary Association's DocuClub, Doc NYC's Only In New York, Australian International Documentary Conference, Doc Edge Pitch, Doc Edge Rough Cuts, Brown Girls Doc Mafia Feedback Loop, Athena Film Festival Works-In-Progress and Good Pitch Local Hawai‘i.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations

expressed by this film do not necessarily represent those

of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Join us for a sneak peek fundraiser for the film!

We're partnering with Mental Health America of Hawai‘i on the online event "Embracing Her Mana: A Pacific Woman's Journey Toward Healing" where we'll share work-in-progress clips of the film and discuss the importance of mental health with MHAH staff. All proceeds raised go to the film project.

The event is Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022 on Zoom from 6:00-7:30pm Hawai‘i time and is open to the public. Donations encouraged.

Register at:


We are still raising completion funds. The project has the fiscal sponsorship of The Center for Independent Documentary, Inc., which is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Thus all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.


To make a donation, go to:


If you prefer to send a check, checks can be made out to:

Center for Independent Documentary

Write "I of the Water: The Unwritten Life of Sia Figiel" on the memo line

Mail to:

Center for Independent Documentary
P. O. Box 95216
Newton, MA 02495

CID will send you a written acknowledgment for your tax records.

Email us at makingwavesfilms@gmail.com with questions.