Splinters Surf Movie – the evolution of surfing in PNG

As the known world of surfing gets smaller, it is inevitable that PNG will be next on the itinerary. The PNG surfing scene in its unique form of combining sport and tourism has come a long way for Surfing Association of PNG (SAPNG) President, Andrew Abel. A journey that has taken him over 20 years to get the surfing industry up and running in PNG. You can read more about Andrew Abel and his role in PNG’s surfing from a Pacific Islands Business article here.

The fact that the sport of surfing in PNG is sold both as a sport and as a tourism package inevitably means that a certain sensitivity will always surround how aspects of our country and surfing are portrayed internationally. Especially so because in the end a thriving surf industry should equate to investment in our country.

So it was no wonder then that Andrew Abel was not particulalry impressed with the over emphasis of cannibalism in the surf documentary ‘Isolated‘.  Isolated turned out to be a movie shot in West Papua, but the blatant and quite frankly lazy labelling of the location as being in Papua New Guinea in their trailer left allot to be desired.

Now comes another PNG Surf film due out soon. Titled ‘Splinters’ it certainly comes across as being a cut above ‘Isolated’ in that it will be showing at this years Tribeca Film Festival in New York. But yet again Cannibalism, Witchcraft etc are mentioned in the trailer. However judging by the trailer it appears to me that perhaps this story will come out with a more authentic view of life in PNG and of how surfing is developing in PNG. So I’m willing to overlook that for now (jeez not that I’m any authority on all of this, its just a feeling).

But the perceptions are important and I guess the feeling I am getting is that maybe we need to play abit with the mystery of our culture and past, so to speak. Maybe it is better for the sales, that’s why foreign film makers can’t let anything go without adding something like Cannibalism to spice things up.

The SAPNG have just completed their 2011 National Titles and in their hopes to step up exposure of surfing in PNG, they will for the first time be hosting the World Qualifying Series in Vanimo next year. I’m sure both films will add to the PR for that event next year and it’s certainly good timing if they had planned it and I’ll be honest I’m quite looking forward to watching Splinters when it comes out.

Andy Abel should perhaps add that cannibals will be serving refreshments at the World Qualifying Series?


11 thoughts on “Splinters Surf Movie – the evolution of surfing in PNG

  1. Splinters is Adam Pesce’s directorial debut. After his first visit to Papua New Guinea, he returned in 2006 & promised himself he wouldn’t leave until he had a film. He lived in the village of Vanimo, taught himself the native language & filmed solo for 6 out of 9 months he was there. It’s an incredible story. Splinters isn’t just another surf film, it’s much, much deeper. I was fortunate enough to see it at the world premiere (Monday, April 25th 2011) at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, the show was sold out, people were sitting on the floor.

    Here are some other reviews of the film:



    Also, if you want to know what inspired the project, below is a little blurb from an interview with Director Adam Pesce.

    “I never set out to make a “surf movie.” My aim with Splinters, rather, is to introduce the viewer to an experiment unfolding in a Petri dish. How the surfboard catalyst will ultimately fuse two disparate worlds together is unknown. Will it be the golden goose that provides a “way out” for emerging surfing talent? Or could it give false hope and usher in the erasure of indigenous heritage while paving the way for commercial exploitation from the West? It is important to me that the film enlivens this debate yet leaves it unresolved.”

    If you want to connect with Adam follow Splinters on Twitter @splintersmovie or Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/splintersmovie

  2. Does anyone know if you can get a DVD copy of this?!! One of the best films I have ever seen without a shadow of a doubt;. like the guy above says, not just another surf movie by any means. i was lucky enough to see this in the London surf film festival and i was completely amazed by it.

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