PNG launches film drama series combatting cross cutting family and social issues

McPolly Koima from Simbu has graced the world stage scenes of acting and film productions, a rare feat for many Papua New Guineans.

A former University of Papua New Guinea’s arts school student and later a teacher at Sogeri National High School, he acted in the internationally acclaimed German movie Jungle Child.

The movie was set in Malaysia and Koima acted as Chief Boku.

A scene from the movie jungle child where McPolly Koima acted as Chief Bogu. Courtesy www.theskykid.com
A scene from the movie jungle child McPolly Koima acting as Chief Bogu. Courtesy http://www.theskykid.com

He was at the premiere of the movie in Germany.

Jungle Child tells the story of a linguist who went to the jungles of West Papua to live and learn the language of the Fayu tribe.

The linguist and his family-the wife a doctor, had to leave the comforts of civilization.

They have an eight-year old daughter who adjusted well with the jungle culture and children her age.

Stand-offs between tribes are inevitable and traditional beliefs of sorcery and witchcraft are cultured.

A young Fayu boy was sick and dying and the linguist’s daughter brought him to their home nursed by her mum.

The young boy recovered and lived with the linguist’s family and when they were teens, the Fayu boy wanted to start a family with the linguist’s daughter but the parents want her to study in Europe.

Koima, the son of a policeman, said his passion for drama and acting grew stronger when he was at 9Gaulim Teachers College in Rabaul before he attended university.

He said acting in the internationally acclaimed movie Jungle Child is like manifestation of his dream.

Koima’s strengths are his ability to visualize and story board in his mind so as to deliver the story with awe placing an antagonist view against protagonist- Hollywood approach to film productions.

He did numerous works on radio drama productions for Marie Stopes, Australian funded programs through the Media Development Initiative, National Aids Council and these programs were widely broadcast on the National Broadcasting Corporation.

Koima went a step further in drama productions, and in an attempt to combatting cross cutting family and social issues- uses film and television to deliver messages of social change.

His confidence in directing came when acting in Jungle Child.

With support from the Australian Government, Koima and his Tribal Arts Voice Link produced a mini television drama series, Grace.

It will be screened at Port Moresby’s Paradise Cinema on December 4, a two hours movie.

Grace is also produced into 10 pieces of 30 minutes episodes advocating social and cultural change.

It was launched at a premiere last Wednesday evening at the Paradise Cinema, by an Australian High Commissioner’s representative.

Koima said Grace raises concerns about family violence, gender equality, disability, female rights to education and many others.

“I hope people will love to watch it over and over again,” Koima said.

“We have been advocating for social change.”

“People used too many different types of advocacy messages”.

“But the aggressive approach to campaign is to use the society itself,” Koima added.

“We did not want to create another advocacy program or awareness.”

“We do not use direct statements like if you bash your wife you go to jail.”

“We portray casual reality and by using that directing concept we make it entertaining,” Koima said.

“When you use people themselves to act, they relate to it well.”

The country’s last video drama was produced about 30 years ago but the Grace director has uncovered many potential raw talents to star in any video drama or movie.

He said PNG needed funding to venture into film drama which has great potential to deliver message to people and call for behavior change.

In the Grace Series set in Simbu and Port Moresby, a 19 year old highlands lass Tina Wesley stars as Grace.

The promotional movie poster for
The promotional movie poster for “Grace”. The movie will be screened at the Vision City Paradise Cinema on Thursday December 4, 2014.

Wesley is an arts student at the university of Papua New Guinea.

In the drama she learns that her school in Simbu was shutting down because of landowner issues and she moves to Port Moresby to continue learning and she lives with her aunt and uncle.

Unbeknown to Grace, her mother and uncle back in Simbu have received gifts from a businessman as bride price to marry her off.

Her ambition is to be a lawyer.

While she lives in Port Moresby with her aunt and uncle, the uncle was always consuming alcohol and the family faces financial difficulties.

This affected her ability to concentrate at school.

A school friend of Grace enticed her to befriend sugar daddies to receive gifts and money.

Grace was caught in between.

Despite the struggles Grace endured she completed her secondary school studies in Port Moresby was selected to attend the University of Papua New Guinea to study law but then there was the arranged marriage her mother and uncle had approved.

It takes the viewer into suspense whether Grace will eventually achieve her dream to be a lawyer.

Koima is ambitious about doing another better productions.

He said it seems the strategy today where we deliver messages of behavior change is to use doctors, pilots, rugby league players-the stars to deliver the message.

Koima believes these stars have some people who are not fans- they have an opposition.

But he suggests if you use the society itself, the unpopular people, they will relate to it well.

“You have to play with the mind,” he said.

He said PNG society has a long oral history and was fitting messages were delivered through drama.

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