An Evergreen Island
This independently produced documentary about the South Pacific island of Bougainville tells a rare but hugely encouraging story. For all those who believe that it is impossible to live without the products of transnationals, this film will serve as a challenge. And for all who believe it is possible, it’s an inspiration. In 1972 Australian mining company Conzinc Rio Tinto (CRA) began commercial production from a huge copper-ore deposit it had located in Bougainville’s Panguna valley. After 17 years of petitions and lobbying for a fair deal from CRA, the people of Bougainville forced the mine to close. To pressure the people into reopening the mine, Bougainville was blockaded by Papua New Guinea. The nine-year blockade — ultimately unsuccessful — kept away food, medical supplies, fuel and humanitarian assistance from the island. *An Evergreen Island* shows how Bougainvilleans used ingenious alternatives to survive without these essentials and rebuild their communities. For instance, we see fermented coconut oil being used to run generators and vehicles. A salvaged truck gearbox helps create hydroelectric power from a river. Nails are made from cyclone fences. Without medical supplies and health professionals, traditional bush medicine undergoes a revival. It’s ‘mekim na savvy’ — learning by doing. There are no blueprints for building alternatives to the global free market based on community values and self-determination. But this documentary suggests that community values and self-determination are vital components of the process. If we could harness just some of the Bougainvilleans’ courage, resourcefulness and vision we would be well on the way to a brighter future.
Distributed by *Video Education Australasia* (VEA), 111A Mitchell St, Bendigo, Victoria 3550, Australia.