Friday, December 07, 2012

Trouble in paradise

PNG Surfing Association takes up fight for women. MALUM NALU reports

PAPUA New Guinea surfing classic, Splinters, made an unexpected premiere showing at a Coffee International gender equity and domestic violence against women at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby last Friday.
Splinters is a surfing documentary that was shot over a period of four years, from 2003-2007, by Californian surfer Adam Pesce and produced by Emmy Award-winning producer, Perrin Chiles.
Its features include:

  •       300 hours compressed into 95 minutes;

  •      No million-dollar feature actors,  just six local surfers and raw footage of part of the evolution of the surfing history of PNG;

  •        Being world-premiered in 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City after being chosen out of 3,000 entries.

 Idyllic beach scene at Lido village, Vanimo, where the Splinters movie was shot.-Pictures by MALUM NALU

Local churches such as St Therese Catholic Church, Lido, will also need to raise their voices against violence against women.

Lido village has some of the best waves in PNG during surfing season.
Splinters then went on to take out awards at the 2011 Audience Award at New Port Beach Film Festival in California, 2011 Winner Best Documentary at London Film Festival, 2011 Official Selection Documentary at Amsterdam Film Festival, 2011 Winner Halekulani Golden Orchid Hawaii International Film Festival, and 2011 Surfer Best Documentary Award out of a poll of 2 million surfers.
PNG Surfing Association president, Andrew Abel, told last Friday’s workshop that three fundamental issues emanated out of Splinters when he signed off the release, and they were:

  • Domestic violence against women;

  • Empowerment of women through the power of surfing; and

  • Responsibility of young people, marriage and obligations of making and raising children, and rule of law.

Abel said surfing communities had been established in Vanimo, Wewak, Madang, New Ireland, and soon-to-be Manus and Bougainville, but they too were not isolated from domestic violence and issues that were demonstrate in Splinters.
“You saw in a small segment of Splinters where a young man is violently hitting and kicking a young girl,” he said.
“This took place at the finals of the 2007 National Surfing Titles, which I was oblivious to as I was busy competing myself, but it was happening in full view of the crowds at the back of the judging and competition area.
“Interestingly, the young man was not one of our surfers, yet his sister he assaulted is a surfer, including their other sibling who is our reigning national open women’s surfing champion, who went on to represent PNG at the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia.
“This happens daily on our streets and in our villages, towns and cities!
“When I was invited in 2011 to New York City for the world premiere (of Splinters) at the Tribeca Film Festival, including New Port Beach, California, and more recently at the Australian premiere in Melbourne, where I did the Q & As to predominantly white audiences, they too were shocked and horrified, but I told them that what they saw in that idyllic coastal village with swaying palm trees, is happening in their very own streets, towns, cities and states.
“I flick on my TV and it is on nightly news and reality shows on nearly every TV station.
“One well-to-do New York lady was so moved by the incident that she demanded that Splinters be shown on the Oprah (Winfrey) Show and be taken around the USA, to highlight what is happening in the most-powerful country in the world, despite all its wealth and power.
“For them, it was a shock, coming from an indigenous person and from a surfer for that matter, from a Pacific island nation that many may have never heard of!”
Abel said through the pursuit of surfing over the last 25 years, he had witnessed as seen in Splinters, how through the power of sports – surfing in this case –real life positive and tangible changes had come about by empowering young women in a male-dominated society, “where they had been suppressed and deprived of their rights to an equal voice and equal opportunities to surf and compete on an equal footing”.
“But more importantly,” he added, “ they can participate in all facets of the surfing and surf tourism industry running in parallel, including being nominated and accepted on the executives of our 10 SAPNG-affiliated surf clubs, where once all the womenfolk were shunned, as seen in Splinters.
“These are small but significant milestones that are the building blocks in the rural and village communities that lead to empowering our womenfolk and enabling them to become leaders and heroes in the pursuit of their dreams, aspirations and passions in life.
“This too can be replicated all over PNG, given the right support at all levels.
“In order for us to collectively achieve the objective of ridding this social evil and malignant tumor that is undermining the fabric of our families, clans, communities and society as a whole, there has to be a fundamental shift in the pendulum in our attitude and that has to start at home.
“Yes, my friends, it starts in the home, and it starts with each and every one of us present here today!”
Californian surfer and filmmaker Adam Pesce disagrees that the graphic wife beating scene is gratuitous.
“While an extreme manifestation, this was very much a part of my experience living there,” he said in an online interview.
“Almost every woman I met had an experience with domestic violence.
“It’s so out of control that there are public service announcements that remind you not to beat your mother, your wife or your daughter.
“It’s tragic and absurd.
“I disagree that the scene is gratuitous.
“If the scene is viewed on its own, without context, sure.
“But given its placement I feel it is strongly tied to the lives of the characters.”
Splinters will have its first official premiere screening in Vanimo in 2013.


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