Controversial documentary on PNG land deal gets wide audience


What began as a student film project finally had its Australian home premiere at the Human Rights Film Festival last month. It has also been screened at the DocEdge film festivals in Wellington and Auckland.

Hollie Fifer’s film The Opposition won the Grand Prize at the International Pacific Documentary Film Festival, FIFO, in French Polynesia, in February.

The documentary is about the struggle to stop the eviction of 3,000 people from a decades-old squatter community to make way for an Australian-backed property development that promised a hotel, marina and exhibition centre.

Bulldozers were used to clear a waterfront residential area in Papua New Guinea’s(PNG) capital Port Moresby and make space for the development

However Australian property developer, Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC), was given a 99 year lease on the land where many families had been living for four generations.

Selected to screen at DocEdge last year, The Opposition, was pulled at the last minute because of a court challenge.

The documentary was cleared for international release in July.

Fifer was in PNG in 2012 as a student filmmaker. She made contact with Dame Carol Kidu, the Australian-born PNG  MP; she was the only woman in parliament and had became leader of the opposition.

While they were talking, Kidu suddenly got a phone call alerting her to the fact that demolition of Paga Hill was underway.

Fifer went with Kidu and filmed what happened: houses being demolished, distressed people being pushed around by police.

Kidu’s was arrested as she protested against what was taking place.

Subsequently Kidu quit parliament; she became a consultant for PHDC and her relationship with the community and the filmmakers began to change.

She took legal action against the film. Her case was rejected.



Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , ,