First Contact (1983 film)

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First Contact
Directed byRobin Anderson
Bob Connolly
Produced byDick Smith
CinematographyDennis O'Rourke
Tony Wilson
Edited byMartyn Down
Stewart Young
Arundel Productions
Release date
7 December 1983
Running time
58 minutes

First Contact is a 1983 documentary by Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson which recounts the discovery of a flourishing native population in the interior highlands of New Guinea in 1930 in what had been thought to be an uninhabited area. It is based on the book of the same name by the same authors. Inhabitants of the region and surviving members of the Leahy brothers' gold prospecting party recount their astonishment at this unforeseen meeting. The film includes still photographs taken by Michael Leahy leader of the expedition and contemporary footage of the island's terrain. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[1] It won Best Feature Documentary at the 1983 Australian Film Institute Awards.[2]

The Highlands Trilogy[edit]

First Contact is the first documentary in what later became known as The Highland Trilogy. The other two films are Joe Leahy's Neighbours (1989) and Black Harvest (1992). These three films, between them, have won some thirty major awards, included each film winning both the Grand Prix at the Festival Cinéma du Réel in Paris and AFI Award for Best Documentary.[3]

Joe Leahy's Neighbours and Black Harvest pick up the Leahy story started in First Contact but in the next generation with Michael Leahy's mixed-race son, Joe Leahy, and his family. These two films document Joe Leahy's life as owner and manager of two coffee plantations on land acquired in controversial circumstances from the Ganiga tribe. Much of the drama in the two films stem from the implications and expectations of these two plantations, that is, from conflicts about ownership both within the Ganiga people and between the Ganiga and Leahy. The films chart a society in transition from a tribal life to a western capitalist one.

Box office[edit]

First Contact grossed $120,000 at the box office in Australia.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AMG. "First Contact". New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2010.
  2. ^ AACTA. "Past WInners: 1983 Winners & Nominees". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  3. ^ Michael DVD Reviews
  4. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]