Wolffram, Paul Robert

Approve Date
Grant Year
2014

Preliminary abstract: 'What Lies That Way?' Is a feature length ethnographic film focused on the sorcery practices of a remote rainforest community in the southern region of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. Sorcery and the magical practices of subsistence communities continue to be perceived by many as backward or counter to scientific rationalism that dominates Western ways of thinking. This film seeks to challenge this perception by exploring in detail the sorcery practices that form an important part of many Melanesian societies. The sorcery practice known as 'Buai' is widely spread through the Bismarck Archipelago. Unlike many of the sorcery traditions in Papua New Guinea, the 'Buai' practice is a non-destructive, creative form of sorcery that allows practitioners to access realms of creativity. 'What Lies That Way?' will explore 'Buai' practice as the Lak people of Southern New Ireland perceive and experience it, as an important source of creativity that helps to cohere the community through music and dance practice. In addition to describing the 'Buai' practice the film will give an account of my own ethnographic investigation into 'Buai' practice based on over two years of fieldwork with the Lak people. My personal journey of discovery will act as a vehicle through which the audience can come to perceive sorcery, not as a strange exotic practice but rather as a fascinating aspect of human consciousness.