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Exposé through music of media ignorance of West Papua

Strange Birds documentary cover

Volume 17, Issue 2

October, 2011

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Chesterfield, N. (2011). Exposé through music of media ignorance of West Papua. Pacific Journalism Review, 17(2): 223-227. Review of Strange Birds in Paradise: A West Papuan Story, feature documentary directed by Charlie Hill-Smith. Melbourne: The House of Red Monkey, 2010. 75min.
Author(s): Nick Chesterfield
Reviewed documentary/ feature film directed by Charlie Hill-Smith
Publication date: 
October, 2011

As the songman of freedom lies dying from an Indonesian bullet, his spirit spawns a great tree of life, feeding the irrepressible spirit of West Papuan liberation. The Birds of Paradise, for so long held prisoner by the Java warlord demons of destruction, pillage and brutality—sing for life, and fly to freedom.

This beautifully illustrated animation sequence epitomises the West Papuan desire for simple survival, an assertion that West Papuan people are the custodians of a true paradise that the Indonesian military mafia has turned into a hell on earth. Combining one of the oldest musical traditions of Earth, and inspired by the liberation music of West Papua’s executed poet laureate Arnold Ap, the groundbreaking film Strange Birds in Paradise shows the spirit of West Papuan resistance is alive and building, and refusing to accept more than 45 years of brutal occupation by Indonesia.