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Post-production   /  Stephen Dupont

The Coach

Inside one of Port Moresby’s most notorious ghetto settlements, a father mentors young criminals into sporting heroes.

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Impact areas

ENVIRONMENT

HUMAN RIGHTS & SOCIAL JUSTICE

YOUTH & EDUCATION

Crew

  • DIRECTOR Stephen Dupont

  • PRODUCER Elizabeth Tadic

Synopsis

DURATION: 60 MINUTES

Set amid the squalor of one of Papua New Guinea’s infamous settlements, THE DOGS is a modern-day parable of once tribal men finding their feet through the game of rugby league.

Footy coach Albert Muri is no stranger to crime and the raskol gangs that tore his family apart. Police gunned down his eldest son and his second son serves life in prison. Albert’s last great hope is his youngest son, Dia who helps him train a local rugby team, channeling criminal minds into sporting heroes.

But Dia treads a fine line between good and evil as he lives forever in the shadows of his gangster brothers. While the odds are against him, Dia triumphs as captain of the national basketball team but his boyhood dreams of becoming an NRL hero are shattered with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, Albert awaits the return of his pardoned son, Desmond. But what future is there in a settlement that more closely resembles a slum? Running water is a rare commodity yet the echoes of domestic disputes a daily occurrence. And yet Desmond, just like Dia, dreams only to play rugby again…

With a backdrop of police brutality, domestic violence and detribalization, Albert’s devotion to change is heartwarming. But is it enough to redeem his family and save his community?

Despite the underbelly of poverty and mayhem, THE DOGS is a surprisingly uplifting story about one man’s simple humanity and decency. Albert’s tireless devotion elevates the film beyond a recitation of third world problems into, cliché notwithstanding, a celebration of the human spirit.

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43.86% funded
  • $57,000.00

    FUNDING GOAL
  • $25,000.00

    FUNDS RAISED
  • July 2022

    PROJECT ENDS
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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The Muri Family and the ghetto settlement they inhabit is a conduit to explore the challenges that many urban communities face in PNG today, namely: loss of culture, detribalization and the resulting toxic masculinity in the face of a now often meaningless existence.

With 80% unemployment countrywide and most young males adrift in a sea of empty promises and a lack of identity, Albert Muri is a trailblazer and true elder who has sensed what the modern PNG man needs – form, structure, purpose.

Through the game of Rugby League, Albert, limited in his physical resources, sets out to save his community – and family – from falling into complete anarchy. So whilst the film highlights a backdrop of poverty, crime and filth, it’s really a story of the human spirit triumphing in spite of enormous obstacles. And, strangely a modern-day reclaiming of lost tribal customs. THE DOGS punches through how one sport can be an overriding catalyst for positive change.

Impact

What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

Our vision is to shine a light on the socio-cultural and economic issues that plague the Kaugere community – from crime and unemployment to a lack of resources and basic amenities. Yet we have chosen to tell a story of hope and change through the game of Rugby League and the leadership of Albert Muri. We want to inspire and mobilize local PNG communities for change, as well as engaging key stakeholders to provide resources or infrastructure whether it be football jerseys or clean water.

Outcomes

What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

We want to highlight the struggles of the Kaugere settlement, as a microcosm of a broader issue playing out in post-colonial PNG. In addition to crime, violence and a fractured male youth, many local communities are lacking in clean water, electricity and sewerage. In the society at large, they face police brutality, a corrupt government and 80 percent unemployment.

We are not going to solve the world’s problems. However, through awareness, key alliances and strategic partnerships, we can certainly shine a light on the work that needs to be picked up by government aid agencies, NGOs and social enterprises.

We want to leverage off the main theme of our film - sport as an agent of self-transformation.We plan to engage with audiences that can bring cross cultural exchange. Via our website and social media, we want to galvanise viewers to donate to initiatives such as the Muri Sports Foundation, which educates and trains youth on the importance of sport in their lives.

Activities

How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

By raising awareness through traditional means of distribution, we plan to make and strengthen a number of key alliances to promote the film and give back to Kaugere and the wider community.

Let’s be real. We can’t directly change government policy in providing fresh water and power but we can influence our NGO partners to be more directly involved in some of the bigger issues, like education and keeping kids in school.

Via a social media marketing strategy, we will raise funds for the Muri Sports Foundation, which provides sport mentorships, equipment and training for the Kaugere community to help build a safer and more positive pathway for future generations. It’s already shown to keep children away from crime, and weekend games bring families together in peace to experience competition, fun and trade.

We want to align ourselves with organisations like AusAID who have been a big supporter of rugby league, one of the greatest weapons against domestic violence, poverty and crime.

Stakeholders

How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Screen Australia came on board first with development funds, which helped kick start the project. Canon Australia provided some production funding and equipment. Six Mile Bookmakers, a local Port Moresby business, provided some production funding as they wanted to invest in a positive venture for their community.

Filmmaker Bob Connolly, of PNG Highland Trilogy fame, has been working closely throughout the post production as a creative consultant and mentor. Bob is also passionate about the Muri family’s plight and has offered a wealth of experience as both a filmmaker and specialist on PNG culture.

It has been a labour of love for the director Stephen Dupont as he not only shot the film solo but also largely financed it. The family’s everyday life, hopes and anguishes are told with an unobtrusive yet intimate and respectful observational camera style.

The next milestone will be to receive post-production funding and support to ensure the best version of this story be told.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We hope viewers will empathise with the people of Kaugere and be inspired by Albert Muri’s indefatigable drive to bring peace to his community through the power of rugby league.

We want our viewers to be galvanised into taking action by visiting the film’s website where they can donate directly to the Muri Sports Foundation, a sports sponsorship program committed to addressing the hardship and violence of everyday life. Viewers can also request to host a fundraiser screening themselves.

We want our film to stimulate public discourse and conversations around poverty and violence. Viewers will witness the positive impact sports can have on future generations.

Clearly a young man who has purpose and direction will be a better son, brother, father or citizen. He’s less likely to fall into the trap of alcoholism, ‘raskol’ gang activities and even domestic violence. Rather than pointing out everything they can do wrong, let us lead them in the direction of everything they can do right.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Success will come mainly from how broad an audience we reach, especially through our key partnerships, strategic alliances and community outreach and engagement. From an international perspective, our measure of success will be via two main avenues. Firstly, any cross-cultural sports related initiatives, for example, the Australian NRL and the Canterbury Bulldogs offering support and resources to the Kaugere Bulldogs. Secondly, our ability to get viewers to donate funds directly to the Muri Sports Foundation and other similar initiatives.

This will directly benefit the people of Kaugere and the future of sports mentorships and education throughout the country, and possibly even into other Melanesian/Polynesian cultures. In PNG, grassroots sports are a community lifesaver. If we can build bridges between Australia and PNG through rugby league camps and teaching, then we believe that our film has achieved its impact vision.