BLACK HARVEST (1992) [Feature]

Australia (MIFF 1992 , Documentaries)


Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly's earlier films First Contact and Joe Leahy's Neigh­bours brought the world the first concerted post-colonial analysis of Australia's dismal record in the near north. Black Harvest takes up the remarkable story five years on with Joe Leahy aged 53. Anderson and Connolly look at Leahy's efforts to import a capitalist agricultur­al mode! into the central mountain district of Papua New Guinea.

World coffee prices create chaos among the Ganiga tribe who anticipated a booming new world, but are disgusted when the price of coffee tumbles on the world market, robbing them of their dreams. Almost simultaneously, the Ganigas wage war with their neighbours.

Post-colonialism is a topic bound to excite a small minority of filmgoers whose interests are likely to be in the now somewhat esoteric areas of anthropology and political economy. But this profoundly challenging documentary makes both subjects eminently attractive, as the film reveals the deep contradictions that operate in Papua New Guinean society in the 1990s. With moments of intense drama and tension, Black Harvest is a brilliant documentary.

• Marcus Breen

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