First Contact

The Aus­tralian broth­ers Michael, Dan, and James Leahy were the first white people to go on an expe­di­tion from 1930 to 1934 to the unchart­ed moun­tain­ous area of New Guinea, look­ing for gold. Unlike other adven­tur­ers, they had a camera with them. 50 years later, Bob Con­nol­ly and Robin Ander­son fol­lowed in the foot­steps of these “con­quis­ta­dors” in this movie in which they show orig­i­nal film mate­r­i­al togeth­er with state­ments by sur­viv­ing indige­nous people who remem­ber the Leahys. Much has hap­pened in the years between when the first images were record­ed by the Leahy broth­ers and these new scenes. Colo­nial­ism, his­to­ry, and accul­tur­a­tion occur between the images and are only vis­i­ble in the dis­crep­an­cy between then and now. (see Die Frem­den sehen, Trick­ster Verlag 1984)

The Papuans tell how they thought the white men were their ances­tors, bleached by the sun and returned from the dead. They were amazed at the arti­facts of 20th cen­tu­ry life such as tin cans, phono­graphs and air­planes. When shown their younger, inno­cent selves in the found footage, they recall the darker side of their rela­tion­ship with these mys­te­ri­ous beings with dev­as­tat­ing weapons”. (…) FIRST CONTACT is one of those rare films that holds an audi­ence spell­bound. Humor and pathos are com­bined in this clas­sic story of colo­nial­ism, told by the people who were there.” (Doc­u­men­tary Edu­ca­tion­al Resources)