Brad Harris from FlyLife Publishing sent me this review from FlyLife Magazine yesterday.
If you fly-fish and read magazines or surf the ’net, you’ve probably heard about a New Zealand film called Once in a Blue Moon. It was a landmark fly fishing film released a couple of years ago. It catapulted the genre out of being videos of guys catching fish, into proper ‘films’ about the fly fishing culture, psyche and life. On The Fly, the makers of that seminal film, have now gone a step further with the release of their latest production Itu’s Bones.
The film follows the story of Itu (eetu) Davey, a Cook Islander whose family has netted the lagoon of Aitutaki for generations. With government moves afoot to protect bonefish from netting and to move towards a more sustainable, tourism-based fishery, Itu’s livelihood is under threat. (The background story will be familiar to those who have read the Brett Wolf/Tim Angeli contribution in FlyLife #67, the latest in a series of Cook Islands bonefish stories dating back to Greg Finney’s ‘Blue Lagoon Bonefish’, published in Autumn 2003 (FL#31)).
Enter Carl McNeil. He embarks on a mission to help Itu become a bonefishing guide. Itu builds a flats boat, complete with poling and casting platforms. Carl uses his experience as a casting instructor (remember he also produced the Casts That Catch Fish DVD) to teach Itu to cast a fly. Together they hit the lagoon, endeavouring to combine Itu’s exceptional fish-spotting skills with Carl’s extensive fly-fishing knowledge to outwit the local bonefish. The end game is to establish an eco-friendly business for Itu and his brothers.
Four tense days without a fish have them all on edge. Itu has invested his whole future in this venture. The fisheries authorities are watching, treating Itu as a test case for the viability of this scheme. The locals are not impressed because they regard bonefish as a delicacy, and have no concept of catch-and-release sport fishing.
The film bares these hardships, showing the realities of blazing a new trail. It’s a refreshing format, much more than just an edit of catch after catch highlights. The pace of the film slows and you really start to feel the pressure that Carl and Itu are under. Just when you think it’s all about to stall, everything changes.
The cinematography is gorgeous above and below the water, as you would expect from these guys. The story is engaging, the characters interesting (I want Itu’s mum to adopt me), and the conflicts between cultural traditions and sustainable eco-tourism are given sensitive treatment.
I trust that you’re getting the picture that this is no ordinary fly-fishing film. It is a true documentary of the highest calibre. Throw in some enormous bone-fish, and you have a DVD that’s equally attractive to both non fly fishers and the most hard-core wavers of the rod.
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