Bougainville – Our Island Our Fight

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Bougainville: Our Island, Our Fight
Directed by Wayne Coles-Janess
Produced by Wayne Coles-Janess
Edited by Wayne Coles-Janess
Release dates
  • 1998 (1998)
Country Australia

Bougainville – Our Island Our Fight is a 1998 Australian documentary film. It was produced and directed by Wayne Coles-Janess.

The film focuses on an indigenous people who fight against a multinational mining company and government forces. The guerrillas believe they are fighting to defend their independence and the local environment on the island of Bougainville. This film is notable for its unique subject matter, as most Western media has not reported upon the Bougainville conflict.


The Island of Bougainville is located in the Solomon Islands, but is politically considered a territory of Papua New Guinea. For the last ten years the people of this Island have fought a guerrilla war with salvaged and recovered World War II weaponry against government forces supplied with more modern equipment. The government has instituted a complete economic blockade of the island in addition to an extended campaign of aerial bombardment and violence against its civilian population.

Bougainville - Our Island, Our Fight depicts the world of Bougainville residents as they leave their traditional coastal society to take refuge from a dangerous military conflict. An explanation of the conflict's causes reveals that the installation of an open cut copper mine at Panguna had initially offered promise of economic prosperity for the region. Bougainville residents eventually determined that the mine project entailed significant ecological damage and social exploitation. Through interviews staged above the now-derelict mine, "Bougainvillians" speak about their initial recognition of the consequences of this mine, the poisoning of their water supply and the degradation of farmlands and jungle habitat. Later scenes show the difficulties which Bougainville residents face due to the naval blockade of their island. The blockade prevents them from receiving medical and humanitarian aid, leading to declining health and appearance of leprosy (though some supplies are smuggled from the Solomon Islands).

The film violated the Papua New Guinea government blockade. It was made at great personal risk to its director, Wayne Coles-Janess who had to be smuggled onto and off the island.[citation needed] It includes the first and only television interview with the BRA President Francis Ona and the defecting Papua New Guinea officer, BRA General Sam Kouna.

In the many international film festivals in which it has featured, it has provoked a strong response amongst audiences as diverse as Turkey, the United States, Brazil, and Tunisia It has also been used as a resource by Amnesty International, the United Nations, the Australian Army and the Australian Parliament.

Festivals and awards[edit]

Awards List

  • Winner "Gold Award"- The 32nd Houston International Film Festival


  • Winner "Gold Documentary"- The Flagstaff International Film Festival


  • Winner "Best Achievement in a Video Production" - St. Kilda Film Festival


  • Winner "Golden Plaque, Video documentary"- The Chicago International Film Festival


  • Winner "Best Documentary"- The Bathurst Film Festival


  • Winner "Best Documentary"- New York Independent Film and Video Festival


  • Winner "People's Choice"- The Best of Bathurst 98'


  • Official Selection - Taiwan International Documentary Festival


  • Official Selection - Elektrozine Ibiza 99


  • Official Selection - Antalya Golden Orange International Film Festival


  • Selected "Wild Spaces"- The Sydney International Environmental Film Festival


  • Official Selection - The Hawaiian 19th International Film Festival


Festival List

  • Banff Television Festival


  • Official Selection - South Pacific Peoples Foundation


  • Official Selection - Festival Internacional De Cinema


  • The Rhode Island International Film festival



  • Festival International Du Film de Kelibia


  • The 10th One World Film Festival


  • John Hopkins Film Festival


  • The Kansas City Film Festival


Press Coverage[edit]

  • "A powerful film about the ongoing civil war."

The Bulletin - Tom Gilling

  • "Wayne Coles-Janess takes the viewers into the world of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army."

The Sydney Morning Herald - David Jenkins

  • "a powerful image of a war,"

The Canberra Times - Karen Hobson

  • "Eye opening doco,"

The Herald Sun - Sydney

  • "Wayne Coles-Janess has produced a telling expose"

The Courier Mail Brisbane

  • "Watch this documentary for disturbing cultural, political and personal perspectives"

Ariel Magazine

See also[edit]

External links[edit]