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Trailer: Director Adam Pesce's Story Of Indigenous Surfing In Papua New Guinea, "Splinters", Screening In Jan. & Feb.

by Emmanuel Akitobi
December 17, 2011 9:00 AM
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"I never set out to make a “surf movie.” My aim with Splinters, rather, is to introduce the viewer to an experiment unfolding in a Petri dish. How the surfboard catalyst will ultimately fuse two disparate worlds together is unknown. Will it be the golden goose that provides a “way out” for emerging surfing talent? Or could it give false hope and usher in the erasure of indigenous heritage while paving the way for commercial exploitation from the West?" -- Adam Pesce, director

That statement alone piques my interest in this film, Splinters.  This is at least the third film about surfing within the African diaspora to be released in recent months; the other two I can recall being Otelo Burning and Whitewash.  So I'd imagine that we'll see an increase in black surfers in the near future-- just make sure all you dudes and dudettes pack it in at the first sign of shark activity.

SPLINTERS Teaser from splinters on Vimeo.

Splinters is the first feature-length documentary film about the evolution of indigenous surfing in the developing nation of Papua New Guinea. In the 1980s an intrepid Australian pilot left behind a surfboard in the seaside village of Vanimo. Twenty years on, surfing is not only a pillar of village life but also a means to prestige. With no access to economic or educational advancement, let alone running water and power, village life is hermetic. A spot on the Papua New Guinea national surfing team is the way to see the wider world; the only way.

Splinters will be screened at the following locations:

January 14th, 2012

The Roxie New College Film Theater
3117 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

January 19th, 2012

The Regent Theater
7 Medford Street
Arlington, MA 02474

February 17th, 2012

Back Space Theatre
10 Town Plaza, #225
Durango, CO 81301

February 24th, 2012

Arlington Cinema 'n' Drafthouse
2903 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA 22204

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  • Orville | December 18, 2011 1:40 PMReply

    I have a question, I heard anthropologists do not consider the people of Papua New Guinea to be of African descent? According to wikipedia these people are called melanesians. But I look at them and they appear to have African features. Does anyone know I mean would it be possible for black people to live in the South Pacific?

  • Djeli | December 19, 2011 2:06 PM

    The varied peoples of Melanesia and Oceania may be described in our modern understandings as "black" but no, they are not African--at least they are no more African than all other human beings on the planet. Quick explanation: modern humanity arises in Africa some 200,000 years ago. About 60 to 50 kya, populations begin migrating out of Africa--becoming all the variances of humanity today. The peoples of Australia, New Guinea, and other related groups are descended from some of these earliest migrants who left Africa. In fact they left so long ago that genetically, they are farther away from from Africans (either those still in Africa or the recent diaspora migrants in the past few centuries) than humans who would leave later. This might make you throw up in your mouth a little, but Dick Cheney's far back ancestors likely left Africa *after* the migrants who reached Australia and parts of Oceania--and thus he's more genetically related to modern day Africans than these "black" peoples of the South Seas. Culturally and linguistically this also holds true, as they are more related to SE Asians and other nearby groups than any culture/language of recent Africa. So why do they still look "similar" to black Africans? And I use "similar" because if we want to get very politically incorrect and anthropometric you'll quickly find their features (if examined closely) do bear differences with modern Africans. Two reasons: (1) they retained features "similar" to what they left Africa with (a lot more so than Dick Cheney's ancestors) or (2) they lost such features during their migrations and regained them for whatever evolutionary pressures allowed for their re-selection. This confused the heck out of early European explorers, who (ignorant of human evolutionary migrations) upon reaching places in the South Seas mislabeled these peoples Negritos, Negrillos and other odd names and even called one land mass "New Guinea"--in reference to the "Guinea Coast" of West Africa. Not only that, but as this contact took place during the slave trade, some of these peoples were captured and enslaved. Most would end up in East and South Africa slave ports, but a very small few may have gotten circulated into the trans-Atlantic trade...which is both sad and ironic. Over the next few centuries they were also subjected to all the brutal anti-black racial treatment the modern world had to offer...leading many to adapt the moniker "black" and even make links to blacks elsewhere, especially in the west. Australia even once had a "black power" movement. So there you have it--perhaps politically and socially "black," but not African. Doc looks good by the way.

  • JMac | December 18, 2011 8:46 PM

    Black people live anywhere. Southeast Asians aren't technically considered black either but ask a Tamil (an educated one) and they'd be the first to tell you the reason they are so much darker than north Indians is because they "interacted" with black Africans thousands of years ago. They still aren't black though and don't consider themselves of African descent. Too far back and completely different/independently created culture. There's also some African DNA in Australian aboriginal people (and pre-European/pre-Asian DNA) - but they aren't black either. Depends on how far back you want to count "blackness." Racial classification is a tricky, inaccurate business. I don't think there's any recent direct ties (like black slave trafficking.) Used to have a go-to guy on that: he would use the term "Black Asian" a lot to describe aborigines, indonesians, and people from PNG [and also India peoples.] Problem is (despite the physical evidence) no one really knows how the hell they exist and from so far from the African continent. DNA is helpful but not by much. Then again, we all come from Africa. Some left earlier than others and went farther than others. Final answer: it's possible but black is not their sole genetic makeup and they would not necessarily identify as black. I think it's better to consider these people as being in their own group than combining and piecing them together from other prominent presently existing groups.

  • Tombs | December 17, 2011 1:16 PMReply

    Wow, this looks really good!

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