DER Documentary

Man Without Pigs

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by Chris Owen
color, 60 min, 1990




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John Waiko is the first Papua New Guinean to reach the status of professor. After receiving his doctorate from the Australian National University he traveled back to his home village of Tabara to celebrate the achievement with his own people of the Binandere clan. although John has a history of long schooling in village culture and has been educated in Port Moresby, London and Canberra, he had little knowledge of ritual and no customary wealth in the form of pigs and a long list of favors given and alliances established. When John and his family decided to put on a dance-drama to welcome his return and assert his accomplishment they were met with challenges and skepticism.

Man Without Pigs offers a rare insight into the antagonism aroused when conflict between custom and western values occurs in an isolated community. It is the most recent film by Chris Owen who has collaborated on many of the major films from and about Papua New Guinea in the past decade.

"Tabara village, John's birthplace, is a community where no one works for money, no one pays for things with money and there are no wheels. His family, who have always lived there, expect John to compete and advance within the village, according to village rules, but he is not as alert to the detail of ritual, and the forces that flow in the village, as some of his age mate rivals. John's strength is that he can intervene in the outside world to secure benefits for the Tabara community. His family wish him to be a man of status within the village; his rivals want to have the right to make John carry their message to the outside world." — Hank Nelson, John Waiko's academic advisor at ANU was invited to Tabara as a guest of honor.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards

Dendy Awards for Best Australian Cinema, Sydney Film Festival,
International Jurors' Prize
Hawaii International Film Festival, Best Documentary

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