By David Saul
I was on Manus Island earlier this month and was lucky to be able to observe a very special occasion for the community. Cinema returned to Manus for the first time since the 1970s thanks to Screens Without Borders, a not-for-profit organisation that screens films in remote communities around the world.
A series of movies was shown from 30 June to 4 July when Michael Smith, the NGO’s founder, traveled to the island to kick off the project in person. These sessions took place at a different location each evening so that as many members of the community as possible could enjoy them. They culminated in a final screening of the series at Loniu Village where over 150 members of the community attended. Paladin sponsored the initiative and was able to help with logistics and coordination thanks to the strong ties we have built through our work with the community.
My colleagues who are from Manus had previously told me how they remember watching old war movies in the 1970s as children. This week, they were treated to some contemporary (and family friendly) classics, and it was a real joy to attend and see the community react so positively.
Screens Without Borders is a great initiative that seeks to bring people together, and from what I have observed, it is certainly something they have achieved during their week on Manus. The equipment will stay behind on island and members of the community have been trained to operate it. This will ensure that the community can experience the magic of cinema on a regular basis.
Michael Smith has recorded a wonderful podcast about his experiences on Manus Island which you can listen to here.
We wish Screens Without Borders the very best as they take their project to light up screens at their next destination. Read more about their work here.
David Saul is the CEO and Managing Director of the Paladin Group