The film Tukana – Husat i asua?, set in pre-crisis Bougainville, is one of Papua New Guinea’s favourite local movies.
The eponymous protagonist, Tukana, is a lovable buffoon like Mr. Bean. The character was brought to life by Albert Toro and opposite was Francesca Semoso, who played the role of Lucy in the film.
The tagline for Tukana defines its purpose as ‘Husat I Asua?’ meaning ‘who is to be blamed?
Though the film is based around its physical comedy, like Mr. Bean and Mr. Bones, it special because it captures the issues and attitudes towards Bougainville’s future that existed at the time and continue to exist today.
'Tukana' tells the story of a university dropout in Papua New Guinea returning to his native village in Buka Passage, North Solomons. His parents want Tukana to marry a school teacher, Josephine, and settle down. But he secretly slips away to Panguna and a driving job with Bougainville Copper. He takes up with Lucy, a high school student who drops out herself later on, and he also drinks long and hard. But he returns home to marry Josephine when his parents actually begin the bride price exchange and summon him.
Meanwhile Lucy has resumed an affair with another man, but her wantoks [relatives] favour marriage with Tukana and they organise sorcery against Josephine. In the climactic scene Josephine succumbs, and she is killed by a drunken hit-run truck driver. Tukana is left alone but he decides to drop back in and become a school teacher.'
The crisis has caused Bougainville to be portrayed negatively, but in reality Bougainvilleans are funny, loving, peaceful and friendly people. Films present an opportunity to change the perception and show the real Bougainville.
The recent film, Mr. Pip, exemplifies the real Bougainville, which is portrayed as peaceful, friendly and danger-free. As well the region's portrayal in the film itself, positives can be drawn from the completion of its production in Bougainville without any interference or danger.