FRONTLINE: The making of Ophir - Bougainville stories and silences: An exploration of the documentary
This article focuses on the making of the award-winning film Ophir in the context of issues relevant to journalism and documentary production. It explores how a partnership of filmmakers, scholars and Bougainvillean community leaders worked to create a documentary that goes beyond bare facts to create deeper meaning. Based on an interview with one of the filmmakers, Olivier Pollet, it discusses issues of archival research, gender, distribution and language. It raises ethical questions about how mining company Rio Tinto used an anthropologist to produce covert corporate intelligence in the 1960s. Through a discussion of the work of independent investigative journalist Antony Loewenstein, it considers how recent Australian aid policy was used to shape public debate about options for Bougainville. It highlights the importance of supporting grassroots storytelling that penetrates distorted mainstream media narratives, especially at a time of shifting geopolitical interests.
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