In the art of documentary making nothing is better at telling the story than the story itself. Dennis O’Rourke does this masterfully in his 1976 film ‘Yumi Yet – Independence for Papua New Guinea”. The only skill that I am aware of that comes close to resembling how this film was put together is that of a DJ mixing at a party so you can hear the different parts being worked together, only in ‘Yumi Yet’ it’s that much more potent because he’s also mixing in visuals. From radio commentaries, to everyday people across PNG, to Australian administrators giving explanations in pidgin, to a young Prince Charles. O’Rourke skillfully blends all these different sounds and images in capturing the atmosphere of a country on the eve of its political Independence in 1975 and he does this without a single word of narration. The people and the country tell the whole story itself as it happened in 1975.
From a film making point of view it appears that he must’ve had more than one camera recording at the same time from different parts of PNG, because it appeared as if we were able to switch from Papuan women preparing grass skirts in Port Moresby to Sepik men constructing a house in Angoram all in the same day. He also captured some beautiful aerial shots and one in particular where he must have been in another plane flying over the plane he was filming which was releasing PNG flags to a village by air. (I personally thought that was a particularly interesting shot). Even funny stories like a self appointed rain maker who had threatened to spoil the day made this a thoughtfully edited film. O’Rourke’s early interest in photography is clearly evident in what was his first effort at film making. All up it it shows a style of documentary making that I honestly have never seen before.
Speaking of firsts in film making, I do have to ask, why is it that this is the first time I have ever seen this film? Why is it that it has taken 34 years after Independence and 32 years after I was born for me to watch this film? Shouldn’t this be in our education system? I didn’t even know the film existed.
If you’re not from PNG this will be an engaging account of a country’s political and social history edited in a witty and thoughtful style. On the other hand if you’re from PNG like me, I can only describe my feelings as disappointment and anger.
Disappointment not at the messenger but at the message in that so much hope was expressed in the film yet today we have nothing solid to show for it. I wonder how many dreams were suffocated and murdered along the way? And I feel Anger that I have no way to undo what has been done by our elders and that I will have to wait another 34 years to see if we’ve learnt anything at all from our past. Who is to blame? Yumi Yet, nogat narapela lain.
A big thank you to Jessica from the British Graduates Society of PNG for this PNG FILM SCREENING SERIES. A message from her below:
“There have been many films with links to Papua New Guinea made over the past decades. Whether films are made in PNG, about PNG or produced and directed by Papua New Guineans, most have been carefully archived by The National Film Institute of Papua New Guinea in Goroka.
Over the next few months, In association with the NFI, the British Graduates Society is organising a screening series, so that people may enjoy some of these wonderful productions. The screening series aims to celebrate these great films, offer a mixed audience the rare chance to see some of these thought provoking films and to generate discussion on PNG cultural heritage & media arts through the viewing of these titles.
The films have been selected for the BGS by the NFI Director Chris Owen and cover a varied range of subjects from films on Papua New Guinea, to Anthropology, Politics, and even include a feature film and films with historical interest.
“Man Without Pigs” will be the first screening of a series of archived films of interest.
Other films will be;
6th August – Cannibal Tours
20th August – Rules of the Game
Non-members are welcome. However, If you have studied in the UK you are eligible to become a member! We’re looking for new members, so please come along to the event where you can also sign up!
jessica jenny johnston
m:+675 719 69998
f:+675 321 5007
po box 443
papua new guinea