Empty Promises

The Plunder of Paradise

In Papua New Guinea the world’s biggest loggers of tropical rainforests are operating on stolen land

The world’s largest logging companies of tropical rainforests are operating on stolen land. Silas Dagulara has returned to his tribe after 30 years away to find that their forest is being destroyed and the logging company’s promises have not been kept. International monetary aid is funding the plunder.

But in other parts of PNG the locals are saying “NO!” to the transnational timber corporations.

Empty Promises is a journey into grassroots of Papua New Guinea. The film visits Milne Bay Province, travels up the Wegulani River and into the foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. This is the heart of the Kakabai people’s customary land and the scene of a huge logging operation.

You will meet the tribe whose lives are being changed forever and plays out a story of stolen land, broken promises and an industry out-of-control. It is the tale of a jungle tribe’s struggle to come to terms with big business and government corruption.

This is the story of what is occurring throughout PNG, the third largest tropical rainforest ecosystem in the world.

We will also visit other parts of the country where the local people are literally felling trees to save their forests. They use portable “Walkabout” sawmills and, with little damage to the forest, are making up to 30 times the money that logging royalties would otherwise provide.

We travel with 13 traditional canoes making a historical ocean voyage to Lae along the spectacular Huon Coast to promote the small scale alternative.

Digitally filmed in Milne Bay and Morobe provinces, Empty Promises features stunning footage of PNG’s tropical rainforests, wildlife, tribal villages, ceremonial activities, logging operations, log export facilities, “Walkabout” sawmill activities and a very unique ocean voyage. The story is told through the people themselves and to the beat of local music.

“The minute landowners stand up and talk, a lot of money has been poured out to shut them up. They accept this as a payment not knowing that this is a shortcoming.”
– Silas Dagulara, Tribal Elder

“The industry doesn’t change much because it is all foreign owned and practically nothing is owned by the local people.”
– Joseph Wong, Logger

“My life until now was not changed. The only change is the machinery and the destruction.”
– Patricia Sawarola, Tribal Elder

Running Time: 52 minutes