Black Harvest (1992)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Race & Ethnicity, Social Issues  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Australia  |  
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Black is the approximate color of roasted coffee beans, the color (more or less) of the individuals followed in this documentary, and the exact color of their futures in the coffee-plantation business. The filmmakers have followed developments in this same part of Papua New Guinea for almost twenty years, beginning with an exploration of the early encounters of these tribal people with "civilization" in First Contact, and an account of relations between a capitalistic and entrepreneurial half-breed and his Ganigra relatives in Joe Leahy's Neighbors. Despite his parentage, the eponymous Mr. Leahy is a classic colonialist, disparaging his tribal neighbors for laziness and lack of intelligence while at the same time attempting to exploit them "for their own good." In that earlier film, he got them to sell him some of their land so that he could plant coffee on it. In this one, he has bought even more of their land in a deal which entitles him to sixty percent of the profits made from it. However, since then, the bottom has dropped out of the coffee market and now everybody is hurting, including the tribesmen, former subsistence farmers who have converted their formerly self-sufficient livelihood to a cash basis. This is just what everybody from the World Bank to Mr. Leahy has been urging them to do. Lucky them. However, they still have tribal customs that lead to war between tribes, and this film shows them heading off to battle and coping with its aftermath.

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Keywords

coffee, colonialism, exploitation, field-worker, New-Zealand, plantation, tribe, war