KORIAM’S LAWAND THE DEAD WHO GOVERN

Australia, Papua New Guinea 2005 | 110 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Q&A with:
Gary Kildea

KORIAM’S LAW is set in the Jacquinot Bay area of Papua New Guinea’s East New Britain Province. Here the Aus­tralian anthro­pol­o­gist Andrew Lattas meets the philoso­pher-infor­mant Peter Avarea of Matong vil­lage, Pomio. Moti­vat­ed by their dialogs, the film sets out to put the often mis­un­der­stood cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na, the “cargo-cult” in a uni­ver­sal­is­ing light.

The Pomio Kivung Move­ment was found­ed in 1964 by a local leader called Koriam. In the face of offi­cial con­dem­na­tion its polit­i­cal and reli­gious phi­los­o­phy sought to uncov­er that path to a per­fect exis­tence which the colonis­ing whites seemed to have found and self­ish­ly monop­o­lised. Kivung lead­ers scru­ti­nised the rev­e­la­tions of mis­sion­ar­ies for hidden truths and codes. They exam­ined, too, formes of colo­nial gov­er­nance - espe­cial­ly money and bureau­cra­cy for clues to the source of their power. Koriam’s cen­tral prob­lem was how to find a way back from the orig­i­nal ances­tral fault that surely put his people in this sub­ju­gat­ed state in the first place. He incor­po­rat­ed parts of Chris­tian­i­ty whilst seek­ing an ever closer embrace of the beloved dead, implor­ing them to hasten their return so that the depri­va­tions and humil­i­a­tions of racial inequal­i­ty might end. KORIAM’S LAW con­cerns itself with the con­tem­po­rary works and under­stand­ings of the Pomio Kivung. The movement’s lead­ers are keen to show its mis­sion is to pre­pare the way for the devout­ly wished “change” and, at the same time, to organ­ise for a better soci­ety in the here an now.