In the Screen Room, Tep Tok (2015) is a documentary feature film that focuses on the art and heritage of tattooing in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. Exploring and to some degree reviving this heritage are four women of Papua New Guinean and Australian descent (Julia Mage’au Gray, Paia Ingram, Ranu James & Natalie Richards). The film follows their journey from Australia to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and back. A particular focus of the documentary is the changes in Papua New Guinean society as reflected through the stories of the protagonists as young mixed-race women adapting and (re)creating a culture to which they belong but from which they have also been apart.
Tep Tok was made over the past 3 years as a fully self-funded project by Sunameke Productions, a dance/performance company formed in Adelaide in 1997 by Julia Gray, Yolanda Gray, Katrina Sonter and Samantha Sonter. Soon after the group relocated to Darwin, the hometown of its founders, quickly establishing itself as a ‘multicultural force’. While the group originally formed around a shared Papua New Guinean heritage, its members, influences and collaborative projects have since diversified.
Editor: Julia Mage’au Gray
Camera: Julia Mage’au Gray, Ranu James, Natalie Richards, Moale Jam, Paia Ingram, Peta Khan, Peter Sipeli, Terry Klavenes
Paia getting tattooed in Samoa by Suluape; image courtesy Sunameke Productions