A global pandemic forces the most remote island in the Pacific to be completely isolated once again.
- Sergio Mata'u Rapu
- Elena GK Rapu
- Waitiare Kaltengger Icka
- Short Film
- Subject Matter
- Identity, Culture, Community Portrait
In 1722 the first Westerners arrived on the shores of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), a tiny island in the South Pacific. The innovative Rapanui, who carved the megalithic moai statues, and numbered in the thousands, were quickly ravaged by introduced diseases. In 1877 only 111 people remained, but those few survived and eventually thrived once again. Today, a new disease threatens not only the people of Rapa Nui, but also the tourism they have depended on for the last 50 years. AVANGA, an experimental short documentary, follows the impact and aftermath of COVID-19 on the Rapanui people as seen through the eyes of award-winning filmmakers Sergio (native Rapanui) and Elena Rapu and their community on Rapa Nui. Produced in the midst of a global lockdown, the film interweaves stories gathered from the island with the filmmakers’ own struggles as parents living in Minnesota. In the end, will history repeat itself? Can the Rapanui people lean on their culture’s past experiences to adapt and thrive beyond the age of COVID?
AVANGA is a recipient of Production funding from PIC's Shorts Fund.
Sergio Mata'u Rapu - Director/Producer
Native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu has produced documentary specials and series that have aired on History Channel, TRVL, Discovery, National Geographic, and PBS. His award-winning directorial debut, EATING UP EASTER, was screened around the world and broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2020. He produced and edited BRING HER HOME, the Emmy winning feature by director Leya Hale (Dakota/Dine) which follows three Indigenous women as they work to vindicate and honor their missing and murdered relatives who are victims in the growing epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. In 2022 he produced and hosted THAT GOT WEIRD, an animated digital series about racism and microaggressions for Twin Cities PBS, and JONATHAN THUNDER: GOOD MYTHOLOGY, a digital short for PBS American Masters. In 2024 he will be releasing PROFE, a feature doc on systemic issues within the educational system for Latine living in Minnesota. As one of the only native Rapanui working in documentary film, he seeks to foster BIPOC stories and storytellers with an eye on environmental and social justice.
Elena GK Rapu - Writer
Elena Rapu is an anthropologist and filmmaker. She received her MA in Anthropology from SUNY Binghamton, specializing in the Pacific and has spent over 15 years working and living in Polynesia. In 2020, she co-produced and co-wrote EATING UP EASTER along with her husband Sergio M. Rapu. In 2023 she collaborated on the experimental doc AVANGA, which looks into the impact of COVID on Rapa Nui while also examining an ancient burial tradition developed during the time of first contact with Western explorers. Elena is passionate about exploring the complex realities faced by living cultures as they grow and change in a globalized world.
Waitiare Kaltengger Icka - Producer
Waitiare Icka is a Rapanui filmmaker with experience in both documentary and narrative film. Her short and long form films have focused on different aspects of Rapanui culture and tradition as in LEYENDA DE UHO TE UKA (2012) and PATU (2018) which adapted oral legends onto the screen.