004 // Black Harvest
Robin Anderson & Bob Connolly
// Australia // 1992
// 90 min // Couleur // 1:33
"As with a great book, we find what is at the core of humanity since Cain and Abel. Greed, jealousy, lust for power." Catherine Humblot / / Le Monde
"A documentary event of extraordinary resonance." Stephen Holden / / New York Times
Cinéma du Réel // Grand Prix 1992
Best Documentary // Australian Film Institute Awards 1992
Sundance Festival// Official Selection 1993
In the 1930s, Australian gold hunters were the first whites to discover the indigenous population of the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Mixed-race children were born of this encounter. Joe Leahy is one of them. At the dawn of the 1990s, he it is a prosperous agricultural entrepreneur who has managed to reconcile his two cultures. He makes a proposal to the Ganigas tribe: they will work with him to produce a huge coffee crop. His business experience enables him to raise funding from banks. The Ganiga offer the land and the workforce.
Market fluctuations and the demands of tribal alliances soon put the project in difficulty.
A cult documentary, one of the world's most celebrated, Black Harvest is a contemporary tragedy, the film of a striking encounter between a traditional society and economic liberalism, as well as a portrait of a man torn between two cultures. Black Harvest profoundly changed documentary film, and is often cited as one of the most engaging examples of the narrative power of direct cinema.
DVD and Extras
Black Harvest: Filmer les Highlands: An interview with the ethnographer and documentarist Lorenzo Brutti
Booklet (40 pages): Interview with Bob Connolly by Alain Morel
16 mm / 1,33 :1 / PAL / Pigdin & English / French subtitles opt. / 90 min + 30 min (extras) / Chapters / All Zones / DVD 9
Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson met as journalists at the Australian ABC channel. A major reporter, Bob Connolly made more than thirty important reportages . He left the channel in 1979 and founded his own company with his wife, Robin Anderson, to produce films they co-directed in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Their trilogy - First Contact (1983), Joe Leahy's Neighbours (1989), Black Harvest (1992) - met with great success and was shown in the major documentary festivals, and was bought by television stations around the world. Each of the three films won the Grand Prix du Cinema du Reel in Paris, which is a unique event in the festival's history. In 1992, for Black Harvest, the president of the jury was the great Mexican director Nicolás Echevarria (Cabeza de Vaca). In order to gain acceptance from the tribes, to get close to Joe Leahy, and to understand the social organisation of the region, Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson spent several years with their children in the Highlands and learned pigdin, the language of Papua. In order to be totally autonomous and to do without any technical team, they rapidly learned the tools of direct cinema: 16mm camera for Bob Connolly and synchronous sound recording for Robin Anderson. The Highland trilogy was developed over more than ten years.
Connolly and Anderson later directed Rats in the Ranks (1996) on Australian politics, which stayed in the cinemas for five months, and Facing the Music (2001). Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson have had a profound impact on Australian film and documentary practice.
Robin Anderson graduated in sociology at Columbia. It is this practice of sociology which brings him to documentary film. She died suddenly of cancer in 2002. One can read a tribute to this great documentarist on the Senses of Cinema website.
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