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Ronin Films

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Year: 1979

Classification: G

Runtime: 48 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Les McLaren

Produced By: Les McLaren

Language: Tok Pisin dialogue, English subtitles

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KAMA WOSI was filmed on the largest of the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea.

The poetry of songs and the art of singing are major parts of Trobriand aesthetic traditions. Through the translation of song lyrics, the film provides a narrative linking village activities, ideas and beliefs. There are songs of garden fertility, and harvest chants with dance. There are songs of love and enticement, and of the seafaring adventures of the famous Kula trading cycle. And there are songs which demonstrate the metaphysical beliefs of Trobrianders - specifically their attitudes to death and the afterlife.

Trobriand Islanders believe in Demwana, a joyous dimension where one's spirit travels after death. Some people in the world of the living have the magical power to travel to Demwana, and they return with songs and dances learned from their ancestors.

Trobriand musical instruments seen in the film include conch shells, a panpipe, a version of the Western recorder (called PIGOLELA), children's leaf whistles, and a flute made from the stem of the pawpaw tree, used by young people for calling a lover.

Les McLaren co-wrote a short history of filmmaking in Papua New Guinea for the Australian Documentary Conference 1993, ISBN: 0646165402, and also a short memoir about early film & music experiences in Papua New Guinea for Meanjin Quarterly, Vol 62, No. 3: ISBN-10: 1740660951 ISBN-13: 978-1740660952

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