The Supreme Court of New South Wales has dismissed the claim by former PNG politician Dame Carol Kidu for a permanent injunction to prevent the screening of Media Stockade and Beacon Films' investigative documentary The Opposition.
The Opposition was produced by Rebecca Barry and Madeleine Hetherton and directed by Hollie Fifer.
It follows Joe Moses, community leader of a four-generation settlement in Port Moresby, who is battling eviction against an international five-star hotel and marina being developed by the Paga Hill Development Company.
In March this year, Kidu sought an injunction to restrain the distribution of any visual or audio recording of herself or any summary, representation or description that has the effect of revealing that content.
Her legal case was supported by the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC).
The court’s judgment said there were “extreme weaknesses” to Kidu’s claim that she did not know that Fifer was hoping to make a documentary for public exhibition, rather than a student assignment.
It stated that "the impression gained is that the Plaintiff is prepared, for her own benefit and that of PHDC, to say anything to stop the footage taken of her by Ms Fifer being broadcast.”
In a statement, Hollie Fifer said she was relieved that justice had been served and that audiences will be given the opportunity to see the film.
“The Paga Hill Community is filing for damages in the PNG Courts for the loss of their homes and human rights violations. The Opposition is also their evidence base because most of their documents were destroyed during numerous demolition exercises that were carried out at Paga Hill,” said Fifer.
“This legal conflict has been an extremely stressful time and has disrupted release plans for The Opposition, nearly derailing the film and the important issues it speaks to,” said producer Rebecca Barry. “We are grateful that we now have the film back in its entirety.”
However, a new legal threat looms, as the court’s temporary injunction forced the filmmakers to screen a redacted version of The Opposition at Hot Docs International Film Festival in Toronto in May, featuring narration over the censored footage by Sarah Snook.
PHDC CEO and director Gudmundur Fridriksson, PHDC director Stanley Liria and former PHDC director George Hallit are demanding all further screenings of the film are immediately ceased due to claims of defamatory imputations.
The Opposition received funding from Screen Australia and Screen NSW and was selected for the inaugural Good Pitch Australia 2014 event.