The ‘battle of Paga Hill’ – controversial PNG doco finally on screens

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

When the police roll in with bulldozers to clear a residential area in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby and make space for a huge luxury hotel, an international scandal of epic proportions ensues.

It’s a true David vs Goliath story about the small community of Paga Hill’s battle against a construction project worth several billion dollars and succeeds in taking the increasingly sinister case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Then Opposition Leader Dame Carol Kidu is the first person to be arrested, but the rest of the 3000-strong community gather with a pro bono lawyer and an international anti-corruption expert to assemble the increasingly dirty puzzle of evidence into a complete picture.

Campaigner Joe Moses and his fellow Paga Hill villagers. Still from The Opposition.

They are led by fearless anti-corruption community campaigner Jose Moses whose life is threatened.

Life then imitates art as the filmmakers are challenged in court by Dame Carol Kidu, one of the subjects in the film and the Australian development company, Paga Hill Development Company, in question in an attempt to ban the film.

Selected to screen at Doc Edge last year, young director Hollie Fifer’s film was pulled at the last minute due to the court challenge and was cleared for international release late last year.

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

-Partners-

Earlier this year, Papua New Guinean cabinet minister Justin Tkatchenko called for a Commission of Inquiry into the “murky deals behind acquisition of Paga Hill land and the abuse suffered by its former residents”.

The two-week Papua New Guinea general election is between June 24 and July 8.

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