Some stories pick you. On my second day in Papua New Guinea I would find myself in the middle of a human rights abuse standing between the police holding machetes and machine guns and the Paga Hill community watching their homes being destroyed fearing for their lives.
The community were peaceful and yet refused to be defeated. When I found out that an Australian-run company was after the Paga Hill land to develop a five star hotel, marina wharf and national cultural centre I knew I had an obligation to continue to capture the community’s resistance.
The irony of forcefully evicting a Papua New Guinean community to replace their homes with a national cultural centre was startling. The fallacy of ‘development’ was clear.
The last four years have been constantly watching the story unfold trying to capture it as it does. The twist and turns throughout kept me in a constant state of fear that I would miss that decisive moment. Ultimately however the more I trusted the process, the more smooth it become.
The Opposition investigates the miscarriage of justice for the Paga Hill Settlement and the journey of our hero Joe Moses; who, along with his unlikely alliance of leaders, lawyers, politicians, researchers and artists, must save the community from forced eviction. They have no where else to go.
We now live in a world where big business and governments sit above the law. We live in a world where human beings are treated as either consumers or parasites. However, I strongly believe that when a miscarriage of justice occurs, the fight has only just begun.
The Opposition will shine a blinding light onto the perpetrators of injustice and this time there will be no government sanctions or court rulings behind which they can hide. The Paga Hill community have a story that they would like to share with you; one of heart, determination and hard evidence.
Using observational footage, archive and interviews, The Opposition contrasts the dark pressure of court preparation, death threats and exhaustion within the leadership with the slow sun filled lifestyle of the Paga Hill community fishing on the waters, kneading bread and practicing yoga at dusk.
Tropical Papua New Guinea is then contrasted against the United Kingdom where the international alliance extends to where Dr. Kristin Lasslett continues to investigate the corruption in 21 degrees (Fahrenheit). It is Kris’ humour which brings the paperwork to life and his genuine and unwavering concern for the community is contagious. Through Kris’ eyes the gap between Western and Papua New Guinea culture is bridged and we begin to question whether the west is over-developed.
The development company’s perspective is seen through the perspective of one of their consultants and the news reports celebrating their efforts.
With the court case and continual demolitions at Paga Hill framing the narrative structure we see a pressurized world of real danger. The impending doom in an otherwise peaceful seaside community brings an intensity to the interviews and observational footage. It is through our intimate access with the characters that we see and feel how desperate they are to win – to keep their homes.