First Contact (1983 film)

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First Contact
Directed by Robin Anderson
Bob Connolly
Produced by Dick Smith
Cinematography Dennis O'Rourke
Tony Wilson
Edited by Martyn Down
Stewart Young
Release dates
7 December 1983
Running time
58 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

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 a member 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 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]


Further reading[edit]

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