A fight for control of the apparently easily corrupted government in Papua New Guinea has allowed for a major injustice to carry on unabated. The residents of Paga Hill in Port Moseby are being forcibly displaced at gun and machete point by workers on behalf of an Icelandic-Australian consortium (run by a onetime licorice baron, import-exporter, and disgraced publisher) that wishes to raze the homes of the people living there to build a luxury resort. Armed with empiric evidence that the corporation’s actions are patently illegal, community leader Joe Moses attempts to fight the case within a legal system where local courts won’t even look at evidence, politicians can be bought and paid off as “consultants,” and no one apparently listens to the Supreme Court.
The Australian produced documentary The Opposition, directed masterfully by Hollie Fifer, has caused a firestorm of controversy at Hot Docs and in the filmmaker’s home country. Due to an injunction filed by Dame Carol Kidu, a key politician in the case and former representative of the people of Paga Hill, in New South Wales, all footage of her interview with Fifer and direct interactions with the persons involved have been forcibly redacted in order for the film to be shown publically, replaced with ominous title cards and narration from actress Sarah Snook. It’s not hard to see why Kidu would sue, but her conspicuous, unsubtle absence rightfully makes her look probably even worse than if she had just let Fifer keep the footage in the film.
At any rate, Fifer’s work is a positively incendiary look at how corporations and wealthy profiteers can run roughshod over everyday people. A major sticking point of the opposition to The Opposition states that Kidu was trying to help resettle displaced people. Audiences will have to decide for themselves, but ultimately Joe Moses and his band of resistance seem justified in their cause. It’s a heartbreaking story of betrayal and greed that will hopefully see its legal issues cleared up soon. It’s a vital film that seems to have terrified all the right people.