Tinpis Run – a Gem of Papua New Guinean Cinema
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has few full length feature films and one of them is the 1991 gem directed by Pengau Nengo called Tinpis Run.
The film stars an ensemble cast of local talent Gerald Gabud, Leo Konga, Oscar Wanu, Rhoda Selan and Stan Walker, and relates the story of Papa and his complex culture and the conflict introduced by Western society.
The film begins with Papa (Leo Konga) and a friend having a good time, downing a few stubbies and then getting in a utility to make their way to Mt. Hagen.
Unfortunately, the binge drinking starts to take effect and the driver falls asleep causing an accident along the highway. Fortunately for us, Papa is rescued by Naaki (Oscar Wanu) and taken to the hospital.
He then offers his daughter Joanna (Rhoda Selan) as Naaki’s wife in thanks. However, Naaki declines, opting instead to let Joanna make her own choice.
Later on, Papa buys an old vehicle, with assistance from Naaki, and establishes his bush taxi service. He names the taxi “Tinpis” meaning tinned fish or can of sardines and runs a successful business. Unfortunately, tribal war breaks out forcing him to abandon his business and partake in the conflict.
This film is a real kaleidoscope of cultural barriers and provides good contrast between the highland region and the coastal areas. First we have Papa offering his Joanna to Naaki as thanks for saving his life.
Then he gives up his business venture and puts his life in danger to fulfil his tribal obligation of tribal war. His family is also affected, especially his daughter.
Joanna is torn between her obligations as a daughter and her own desire to better herself through education. She cannot directly go against her father and thus finds alternative ways to get to him like when Naaki and her fake her abduction in front of the police station and lead the police to her father’s war wagon.
There are so many social and cultural issues raised in this film but rather than keep it strictly dramatic, the writers have included comedy to make digestion easier. I found it highly entertaining as well as educational.
The film is in Tok Pisin, the Creole of PNG and is subtitled with English. The DVD version has the option of English and French.