Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Films about PNG

Two recent films about PNG that I saw screened back in February at the Pacific Film and History Workshop hosted by the ANU and run by Chris Ballard and Vicki Luker are worth highlighting. The first is Papa Bilong Chimbu (2007) and the second is Crater Mountain Story (2006). Both deal with different issues relevant to Melanesian communities and besides being interesting in their own right are useful for teaching.

Papa Bilong Chimbu is directed and produced by Verena Thomas and chronicles the life of Thomas' great-uncle Father John Nilles (1905-1993), who from 1937 worked for 54 years as a Catholic missionary in the Chimbu district. Reminiscent of Connolly and Anderson's film First Contact (1983), the film weaves together Thomas' relationship with Niles, her own journey to Chimbu to interview those who knew and worked with her great-uncle, with historical photographs taken by Nilles and a chronicle of Nilles engagement with the Chimbu. The result is a fascinating film about Nilles entanglement with the Chimbu, the history of transformation in the region and the filmmaker's own encompassment by these relationships. The film is distributed by Ronin Films and clips can be seen on the website:

Crater Mountain Story is directed by Martin Maden for the Research and Conservation Foundation of Papua New Guinea (RFC) and was created with members of Maimafu village. The film explores people's reactions to a proposed mining project and mixes interviews with villagers with skits and performances put on by villagers for the film. The film provides wonderful insight into local views about conservation, what development entails and what it is that people desire. Clips of the film are available on Maden's website: Maimafu Flue Finale, Maimafu Flute Finale 2 and Siri Gets Ready. The film is a good companion to Paige West's recent book Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea (2006) about the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

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