Sabtu, 07 Januari 2012

A Creative Statement to Global Silence

A creative statement to global silence

West papua
A scene from Strange Birds of Paradise, a documentary that looks at the oppression of West Papuans. Source: Supplied
DONNY Roem and Jacob Rumbiak are refugees from West Papua who live in Melbourne and have important stories to tell.
Roem crossed the Arafura Sea to Australia with his brothers and 42 other refugees in a homemade canoe; Rumbiak was a child soldier in the West Papuan resistance movement who was tortured. The film begins as the men join Australian musicologist David Bridie to record outlawed folk songs from their homeland.
The beautiful Melanesian songs were written by Arnold Ap, a West Papuan musician and anthropologist who used song as vehicle for speaking against the oppression of his people. He was arrested and tortured by the Indonesian military in 1983; five months later he was killed, allegedly while trying to escape. His music resonated with West Papuan communities as he was a champion for their right to political and cultural freedom.
It's via the music that filmmaker Charlie Hill-Smith documents the story, and he pushes you to look beyond the few impressions you may have of this wild and mostly inaccessible part of the world.
Hill-Smith has been visiting the region since he was a teenager and is clearly in his element as he laughs and jokes along with the villagers, taking part in rituals and dressing in traditional attire.
He is quick to point out, however, that this area is far from being an exotic tourist wonderland: this is, in fact, an undeclared war zone as tribes continue to fight for survival against Indonesian oppression.
Hill-Smith aims to convey a strong political message in this documentary, as he feels a great injustice has been done to the people of this region, particularly given Western nations' apparent indifference towards the actions of the Indonesian government.
Thus, says Hill-Smith in his director's statement, the film is a creative reaction to international silence and a cross-cultural response to neo-colonial tyranny.
Strange Birds in Paradise, 9.30pm, SBS One