Unity Through Culture


Soanin Kilangit is determined to unite the people and attract international tourism through the revival of culture on Baluan Island in the South Pacific. He organizes the largest cultural festival ever held on the island. But some traditional leaders argue that Baluan never had culture. Culture comes from the white man and is now destroying their old tradition. Others, however, take the festival as a welcome opportunity to revolt against ’70 years of cultural oppression’ by Christianity. A struggle to define the past, present and future of Baluan culture erupts to the sound of thundering log drum rhythms.

Awarded the “The Intangible Culture Film Prize” + “Richard Werbner Award for Visual Ethnography”, RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London 2011.

This film has also been screened at:

• The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival, USA, 2014
• Freiburger Film Forum, Germany, 2013
• Kratovo Ethnographic Film Festival, Macedonia, 2013
• European Association for Social Anthropologists Biennial Meeting,      EASA, Paris, 2012
• Anthropology in the World, Royal Anthropological Institute/British Museum Centre for Anthropology, London, 2012
• “The Intangible Culture Film Prize”, RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2011
• “The Richard Werbner Award for Visual Ethnography”, RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2011
• Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival, Taipei, 2011
• Society for Visual Anthropology Festival, AAA Meeting, Montreal, 2011
• Hawaii International Film Festival HIFF, Honolulu, 2011
• The International Festival for Ethnological Film, Belgrade, 2011
• VISCULT – Festival of Visual Culture, Finland, 2011
• Days of Ethnographic Cinema, Moscow, 2011
• The NAFA Festival, St Andrews, 2011
• IUAES/AAS/ASAANZ Conference 2011 Perth, 2011
• Royal Anthropological Institute Festival for Ethnographic Film, London, 2011
• Broadcast, Taiwan Indigenous TV, Taipei, 2011

“…the various disputes that come forth during the film will provide an excellent teaching tool and springboard for myriad discussions associated with issues involving kastom, tradition, change, authenticity, performance, identity, cultural politics, exchange, and the impact of the West on traditional societies.”
—Karen Stevenson, American Anthropologist, p. 534-536, September 2012


Christian Suhr is a filmmaker and assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology, Aarhus University. He is the editor of the book “Transcultural Montage” (2013) and the director of the award-winning films “Descending with Angels” (Denmark 2013), “Ngat is Dead” (Papua New Guinea 2009), as well as “Want a Camel, Yes?” (Egypt 2005). He is the author of a number of articles dealing with visual anthropology, spirit possession, and psychiatry.

Ton Otto, born in the Netherlands, is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Aarhus. He has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea since 1986 with a focus on issues of social and cultural change. Since his first fieldwork he has used video as part of his research and teaching but also as a means of exchange with the people he collaborates with in his studies. This is his first film intended for a wider public.

Film Company: http://www.personafilm.dk/en/

Project Details

Year: 2011
Filmmaker(s): Christian Suhr and Ton Otto
Running time: 58 min
Distribution: Documentary Educational Resources (DER, Watertown, USA)
The Royal Anthropological Institute (London, UK).