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I of the Water

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., Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand, Germany, Scotland and France.


The film is a co-production with Pacific Islanders in Communications and American Documentary | POV.


Major funding received from Pacific Islanders in Communications, American Documentary | POV, Hot Docs first look Pitch Fund, 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 2023 Hot Docs Forum and Deal Maker, 2022 Australian International Documentary Conference The FACTory Rough Cut Showcase, 2021 Doc NYC's Only In New York, 2021 International Documentary Association's DocuClub, 2021 Doc Edge Rough Cuts, 2021 Brown Girls Doc Mafia Feedback Loop, 2021 Doc Edge Pitch, 2021 Athena Film Festival Works-In-Progress, 2020 Sundance Institute / Women In Film's Women's Financing & Strategy Intensive and 2019 Good Pitch Local Hawai‘i.

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendationsexpressed by this film do not necessarily represent those

of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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News related to the film

Hot Docs Forum Win 
The film took home the top pitch prize at the 2023 Hot Docs Forum in Toronto in May. The Hot Docs first look Pitch Fund 1st place prize comes with a $50,000 CAD award, which will go toward the film's edit. For press coverage on the win, check out Variety and POV. 

Work-In-Progress Events
As we work on our rough cut, we've been testing material and building community at the following work-in-progress events. 


April 27, 2023 - The Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma Hawai‘i Summit
April 20, 2023 - Kaimukī Public Library
December 1, 2022 - University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
October 26, 2022 - Windward Community College
October 6, 2021 - IDA DocuClub Hawai‘i


Fundraising Events
We've partnered with Mental Health America of Hawai‘i and Women's Fund of Hawai‘i on two online fundraising events for the project in which we shared work-in-progress clips of the film and had discussions about mental health. If you or an organization that you're part of would like to hold a fundraiser for the film, please get in touch with us!

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" 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 with questions.

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