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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

There's a new film about "West Papua" - a nominal country that many hope, despite the media blackout imposed by the Indonesian government, would combine the Indonesian provinces of West Papua and Papua into a sovereign nation - has been screened in Melbourne, Sydney, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Tahiti. Charlie Hill-Smith's Strange Birds in Paradise is now due to screen in Canberra, Brisbane and San Fransisco as well, beginning with today's viewing scheduled to take place at the United Nations Association Film Festival in SF.

It's about the Papuan separatists who are resisting Indonesian claims of sovereignty and, to capture images of the Papuan freedom fighters, Hill-Smith visited Papua province via the Papua New Guinea-Indonesia border at Wutang on the north coast with a tourist visa, he told me in an email. The crew had to shoot secretly as journalists and film makers have been banned from entering either province for many years.

Footage includes material shot in Australia of Papuan songwriters and performers and old footage Hill-Smith shot during a tour of the country years prior to completing the more recent work.

In the coming days the film will be screened in Canberra at the Canberra International Film Festival and in Brisbane at the Brisbane International Film Festival.

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