By LOTTIE WAYAGURE
A young aspiring PNG actor has come across a movie which he thinks has an inspiring message for Papua New Guineans.
Philadelphia has a timeless message which, simply put, is that homosexuals and people living with HIV are just like us, and they shouldn’t be subject to discrimination based on their sexual orientation or HIV status,”says Andrew Kuliniasi.
The film screened at the Paradise Cinema on Nov 30 showed how important it was for homosexuals and people living with HIV to have support from family, friends and organisations and health sites.
“I can go on and on about how great the script, cinematography and acting were but the message was clear, delivered smartly and so relevant to what we face today,” Kuliniasi says.
“When I heard that the movie was about HIV and homosexual discrimination, my mind immediately thought of how it would be received by a PNG audience.”
Being a young actor and the playwright of Meisoga(2017) a play based on a local legend which was performed at the Moresby Arts Theatre, Andrew makes it his business to watch as many movies as he can in an effort to learn more about his craft.
Being a teenager, he only goes to the cinema to watch the latest blockbusters which he admits isn’t a great source in gaining acting or script techniques.
“When it comes to old films, well I don’t watch anything from before I was born. I know what you’re thinking: “This guy calls himself an actor and hasn’t even watched the classics!?
“As uncultured as I am in my poor movie tastes, when the opportunity arrived to watch the movie Philadelphia starring the Academy Award-winning actors Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington when they were young, oozing star power and in their prime,(not that they’ve lost their touch) I couldn’t stop myself from jumping with joy,” saysKuliniasi.
Putting the movies into the PNG context, he realised that this is a country where homosexuality is illegal, where people with HIV are often called names.
He says this is a place where we are taught that active isolation and stigma surrounding homosexuals are still a norm, and that HIV is still explained as a curse by a sanguma man or meri.
“Sorcery is what we still believe as the cause of most HIV-related cases.
“I pride myself on being more liberal than most Papua New Guineas, which includes my family, sorry Grandma! Having friends that are homosexual and being the friend of a patient with HIV/Aids, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago.Philadelphia is a movie I find in every sense un-cringe worthy.” he says.
After watching the 1993 movie, he’s thoughts have changed somewhat as he looks at the progress PNG and the world have made from the time until now.
The film through its message, encouraged Kuliniasi to reflect on all the changes, however small, that have been made in encouraging the acceptance of homosexual people, and how we treat people who are HIV-positive.
“Although PNG may be a while away from the progress of some other countries we have still made significant progress. For instance, education and awareness of HIV as a health issue has been made widely available to understand the disease better; thisreduces the amount of fear about the disease. I have learned that prevention and treatments have also improved very much in recent years allowing more people with the infection to be better treated.”
He said the stigma of homosexuals and of people living with HIV and Aids have decreased as well. There are fewer people being prosecuted for being homosexual and the rise of a more accepting generation that allows people to be who they are.
“Although in PNG homosexuality is a long way away from being de-criminalised, it certainly is a start. Homosexuals and people infected with HIV now have a community themselves as well as community groups and organisations that are ready and willing to support them.”
Kuliniasisays Philadelphia has inspired him to write more about things that matter; issues like discrimination of people with HIV or anyone that’s different.
“It has taught me that people living with HIV, homosexuals and everyone that may be considered different, strange, weird or eccentric are just like you and just like me. Human. Humans that are different but still, humans with feeling and emotions that shouldn’t be judged based on status (in every sense of the word), behaviour, physical appearance or ability.”
Kuliniasigraduated from Port Moresby International School and has been doing his summer internship with Business for Life (B4H), a project designed to protect and promote the health of private sector workers. He is learning about the activities that B4H offers to inform, train and support businesses to reduce the impact of TB and HIV on businesses.
By LOTTIE WAYAGURE