Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly

A classic study of neo-colonialism gone amok, Black Harvest (1992), is the final piece in a trilogy of films about the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Black Harvest was made by a husband-and-wife team, Robin Anderson (sound) and Bob Connolly (camera) using 16mm observational techniques. The filmmakers tell the story of Joe Leahy (top still) and his attempt to run a coffee plantation in partnership with the Ganiga tribe. (Leahy is the son of a Ganiga woman and an Australian gold miner; Leahy's dad was one of the first outsiders in the highlands in the 1930s.) Hard times strike Leahy and the Ganiga when coffee prices crash. The workers complain that they're being paid slave wages -- and Ganiga men stop working on the coffee harvest entirely to wage a bloody war against other tribes. Anderson and Connolly (with editor Ray Thomas) give shape to a complicated and absorbing story, which maintains intimate access to a variety of characters amid the larger issues in globalization and development.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.