WANTOKS: dance of resilience in Melanesia



In 2018, the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific, hosted the Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival, celebrating the country’s fortieth anniversary of independence. On neighboring island states, the struggle for freedom continues, as West Papua resists Indonesian occupation and the residents of New Caledonia still live under French rule. In all Melanesian countries, residents face the common challenge of climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to swallow both land and tradition. In this charged context, captivating performers are using their talents to celebrate local culture and draw international attention to their islands’ plight, with the hope of spurring international solidarity and prompting collective action against the perils of a warming world.

Photo credit: Iara Lee

Original Title: WANTOKS: Dance of Resilience in Melanesia
Languages of the original work: English, French


Director/Producer: iara lee
Editors: Dimo Petkov and Silvio Montanaro
Drone Cinematography: Andrew and Karl Bouro
Sound Design/Music/Mix: Kaloyan Dimitrov

Countries of Production: Solomon Islands/USA/Brazil/Bulgaria
Year of Production: 2019
Running time: 20:00
Number of Tapes/Discs: 1
Black and White or Color: Color
Screen Format: HDCAM, PAL
Ratio: 16:9
Frame rate: 25fps
Sound: Stereo
Genre: Documentary

Production Team:
Tamar Shvelidze
Mariam Otarashvili
Virginia Estrada
Gabrielle Sferra
Amelia White
Rebecca Nathanson
Mark Engler


Dancing Turtle Films
“Footage from Forgotten Bird of Paradise”


Wensi Fatuban and Yones Douw
“New footage of West Papua massacre casts spotlight on military abuses”

Peter Yacono
“Canoes Vs. Coal”

Papua Storyteller
“Papua Calling eps 5 Resistance Marind people to reject MIFEE project in West Papua”

Make West Papua Safe
“Justice for Murdered Children”

“Papua Masih Berduka (Potret Penyerangan Nduga)”

West Papua Campaign
“West Papuans support the APPG on West Papua”
“West Papua Will Rise Again – Merdeka 2014-2”
“Climb for West Papua”


“Discours de Yeiwéné Yeiwéné au environ de Nouméa”

ABC News
“Post-referendum unrest closes highway in New Caledonia”

Indonesia Nature Film Society
“Biodiversity in Tambrauw, West Papua”

Prof Nancy Lee Peluso
“The gold farmers”

West Papua Updates

“Le MCI lance un appel à soutenir le peuple kanak”

Al Jazeera English
“Independence from France New Caledonia holds vote on Sunday”

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
“Migration and Climate Change in the Global Compact for Migration”

“Kiribati_ a drowning paradise in the South Pacific _ DW Documentary”

Protect Mother Earth
“Canada’s glaciers are melting 900% faster than they were before 2005”

Roy Smith
“Freedom to West Papua”

Enough 14 TV
“The militarization of the EU border on Lesvos”

“Stimulator – Trouble #3: Refugees Welcome”

The Top 10
“The Greatest STORM in the WORLD 2017, big Waves 20 mGLOBAL FLAG”


This film was made with the support of many collaborators around the world. We would like to thank all of the participants, including:

Solomon Islands:
Iaare/ Makira
Wauraha/ Malaita
Waru/ Malaita
Saeolo/ Isabel
Podekia/ Western
Ngela Mario (Theatre)
DukasiU’una Mao Dancers/ Malaita
Alibusu Mao dancers/ Malaita
Avaiki cultural dancers/ Renbel
Fox Bay cultural dancers/ Guadalcanal
Turaragna Cultural dancers/ Guadalcanal
Two 4 One Circular Music (Band)
Kaumakonga Ethno Music group (Band)
Black Wine (Band)
Pele Dancers/ Temotu
Hageulu dancers/ Isabel
Lauru dancers/ Choiseul Females
Tepuke Navigation/ Temotu
Choiseul Group
Roviana Group


Papua New Guinea:
Morobe Province

Melanesian Arts & Cultural Festival
Alaric’s Ifunaki Fugui
Alphonse ‘Phornzie’ Ganzie
Andrew Bouro
Ben Didiomea
Brianton Kolokosi
Carl Söderbergh
Charles Sussa Kanai
Collin Leafasia
Dan Kakadi
Dominic Brown
Dre Dre Danzo
Edward Manuga
Emmanuel Tjibaou
Evita Sogavare
Fali Latha Ruga
Frances Sophia Do’oro
Fred Oge
Freddie Osofelo
Grace Hilly
Hachi Stephen
Hanna Shelyag
Ivan Utahenua
Jennifer Lakoa
Jennifer Wate
Joey Ualari Manemaka
John Ta’amora
Junior Patrick Makau
Kate Gething Lewis
Kellyson Saeni
Lachlan Shyves Ehud
Lee Kwaimani
Levo Mannar
Lorenza Cordeiro
Luis Ericcson
Lynton Aaron Filia
Mannar Lévo
Marie Frison
Maverick Political Bwoy Seda
Melanie Liet
Mia Koelau
Nancy Lee Peluso
Natalie Oren
Neil Nuia
Nings Oligao
Owen Fimone
Patrick Pikacha
Patrick Rose
Peter Yacono
Phillip Subu
Pollyanne Lepping
Roger Cho
Romane Cauqui
Sam Uruau
Samson Saefooa
Silas Leti Savara
Scady Josef
Shà Né Faisi
Thanu Yakupitiyage
Theo Dre
Tossuel Hano
Wensislaus Fatubun
Yones Douw
Zahiyd Namo

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