TUKANA (1982) [Feature]

Papua New Guinea (MIFF 1985 )
Director: Chris Owen

Tukana, whose title is both the name of the film's troubled hero and the word for "walking stick" in one of the divergent tribal languages of the North Solomons province of Papua New Guinea, is the first feature-length film made in that country to receive international exposure.

Tutkana came about as a result of a project carried out in the North Solomons, sponsored by the Provincial Government and the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. Villagers throughout the region were asked about their lives and about aspects of change and development which disturbed them. Tukana is a dramatisation of that concern. The language of the film is Tok Pisin, the richly idiomatic English-based vernacular of Papau New Guinea. The screenplay was written by Albert Toro, who also plays the lead role, the remainder of the cast was non-professional.

Tukana tells the story of a young man caught between the ways of his ancestors and his own desires to ride motor-bikes and drive speedboats. When he drops out of university, Tukana returns to his village where his parents want him to marry a tokples school teacher and settle down. Instead, he heads off to the Bougainville copper mines, drinks his wages away, and takes up with high school student, Lucy. He returns home to marry Josephine when his parents actually begin the bride price exchange and summon him. Meanwhile, Lucy has resumed an affair with another man, but her wantoks favour marriage with Tukana and they organise sorcery against Josephine.

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