Cinema returns to Manus Island for the first time in 40 years


Local communities on Manus Island have experienced the magic of cinema for the first time since the 1970s thanks to an initiative by Australia-based not-for-profit Screens Without Borders (SWB).

The Screens Without Borders team with their outdoor mobile cinema unit.

A series of open air film screenings were held across the island for the local community to come together to enjoy and experience cinema, many for the first time in their lives.

Several hundred members of the community attended the screenings of Power Meri, a film that follows the first PNG national women’s rugby team’s journey to the 2017 World Cup, across remote locations such as Lugos, Rossun and Loniu. Other films screened included the Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir and the moving soccer film GOAL!

SWB delivers professional cinematic experiences in partnership with non-government and community organisations combining inspirational movies with important health and welfare content. It uses a specially designed travelling mobile cinema to screen family friendly movies, arrange for them to be dubbed into the local language and finally screen them to remote communities.

SWB founder Michael Smith, who travelled to Manus for the program, said that the initiative was born out of his love of cinema and sharing with the community. ‘Our mission is to educate, elevate and entertain communities that are in some of the hardest to reach places and do not get to enjoy the shared experience of cinema. We’re all about bringing people together and that is why Manus Island was a natural choice for this program.’

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The Paladin Group, which has been operating on Manus since 2013, sponsored the initiative as part of its community engagement program. Paladin Director Ian Stewart commented, ‘We were delighted to play a small part in bringing Screens Without Borders to Manus Island and cinema back to the people for the first time in 40 years. Cinema is a way of people coming together and we were really pleased to hear that the screenings were received so positively.’

Local staff were trained by Michael Smith to operate the mobile cinema unit, which continues to travel around Manus screening films two to three times a week so that communities on the island can come together for regular cinema experiences.


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