Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kirapim Wok Piksa

Tinpis Run is another PNG feature film
In my presentation at the symposium on harnessing the arts and culture in development I also shared my experiences as a writer, academic, publisher, and advocate for the development of arts and culture in the country. In the focus of my talk I spoke about using media technologies to help us promote our arts and culture.

Papua New Guineans have more access to media technologies than twenty years ago. It amazes me how slow we are to take advantage of media technologies to advance our cause. Today it is easier to take beautiful photographs of people and landscapes using our mobile phones and digital cameras. We upload these photographs on our Facebook and blog pages with ease and comfort. In so doing we share moments that are identifiable among all people. One of the most useful media technologies we need to use more to promote our cultures and arts is the YOUTUBE. We can use digital technologies of packaging culture and arts that we can upload on YOUTUBE.

To illustrate my point I showed a short video “Chewing Buai and Poetry” I produced and posted on Facebook. The second video was on Waigani Primary School Cultural Day I produced and posted on YOUTUBE. I earn no money from posting them online, but have so much pride promoting the arts and culture of my country through the media technologies available to me.

Video documentaries on Papua New Guinea presented through the local television network is not enough. Papua New Guineans must be given the resources and financial support to film and produce their own video documentaries and films that capture their cultural expressions, knowledge systems, dynamic artistic and creative world, and the bio-cultural diversity. This is one area that Papua New Guineans have yet to utilize to the maximum advantage.

Our society is an oral and visual society. We learn by seeing and listening more than in writing. Visual images and verbal expressions have more impact on Papua New Guineans than print culture. The choice between watching a video and reading a novel is obvious for most Papua New Guinea. The choice between speaking on a mobile and reading a newspaper is obvious among Papua New Guineans. We need to provide the opportunities for Papua New Guineans to use film and video documentations of their cultures and arts.

The argument so far is on adopting modern cultural technologies in nation building. The primary reason is that these technologies are available to us for our use. Taking advantage of them without compromising too much to the demands of such technologies is the best approach to take. There are more gains in cultural values when we promote our cultures so that other people can understand and respect our cultures. 

In both the traditional and modern societies the arts and cultures are produced and supported through various institutions set up to for such purposes. Traditional institutions regulate and instruct their adherents on what and where to perform or exhibit certain art forms and cultures. In contemporary times the government has mandated certain institutions to promote, cultivate, and develop the growth of culture and arts. Without institutional support any growth and development of the arts and culture are impossible to witness or speak about.

Our discussions must also include the duties and responsibilities of some of our modern institutions and organizations in promoting growth and development in the arts and culture of Papua New Guinea. Increased funding and allocation of government resources to these institutions can help accelerate growth in the arts and culture sector of Papua New Guinea.

The discussions I am having so far are in areas that have the potential to promote culture growth and enhancement of nation building through cultural media technologies and developing institutional capacities.

We must ask certain critical questions: What kinds of growth in culture and arts are we looking at for our nation? How do we go about promoting growth in culture and arts in a country that is slow in recognizing arts and culture, artists, writers, filmmakers, and organizations that promote the arts and culture in the country? We need to reassess and re-evaluate our priorities of development in terms of culture, arts, and knowledge systems.

It is important that we develop our own conversations about the importance of our arts and culture in nation building without needing to allow international consultants to define what arts and culture is for us.

During the national symposium on arts and culture in development the film “The Last Real Man” directed by Robert Buleka and a film by Ruth Ketau of the National Film Institute of Papua New Guinea was launched by the Minister for Arts, Culture, and Tourism, Hon. Bob. Kondra.

I felt honored that a copy of the film was given to me. The film is based on the Neheya Initiation among the Sakanuga Tribe of Bena District, Eastern Highland Province. Concerned about the influence modernization is having on her maternal kinsmen, Ruth Ketau breaks all cultural taboos to document on film, their nose bleeding and cane swallowing male initiation (Neheya), which is an all male affair. With their concern Ruth documents this fast disappearing male initiation ceremony.

The National Film Institute of Papua New Guinea, an arm of the National Cultural Commission, according to Robert Buleka, is now moving into the program of grassroots film-making. It is now working with communities to use camera to tell their own stories. This is an approach that is bound to produce interesting new insights into the lives of Papua New Guineans, which we often ignore. Telling their stories on camera will give a fresh perspective to what may seem old and uninteresting. 

I am pleased that Robert gave me complimentary copies of the films produced so far: Kirapim Wok Piksa, Real Options: Coconut Oil Press, Your Culture, Your Future, and The 11th Festival of Pacific Arts.

The National Film Institute needs the recognition and funding to continue the excellent activities in filming our cultures and making original PNG films.


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