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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., 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 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.


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" 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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