Mark Worth was a 44year old Journalist who the WPNGNC believe was murdered by poisoning in West Papua recently. Mark made the historical documentary "Land of the Morning Star" that was screened on ABCTV in Australia in February 2004 about one week after his death. The following statement is about Mark's death.
26th January 2004
Worth's Death is very Suspicious.
By Maraccus Solano
The Melanesian Friendship wishes to extend her condolences to the families of the late friend and a brother to the Melanesians Mr. Mark Worts. We are very sorry that such a tragedy should befall a person who has spend a good amount of his life exposing the state perpetrated immoral and inhuman operations in the West Papua. We salute your work to unveil and expose the tigers in sheep's coat.
Melanesian Friendship is calling on the international and regional Journalist association and more specifically Journalist Association of Australia to be together with us in making sure that justice is fully employed and unleashed against whoever that is behind the death of Mr.Worts (Worth).
The Melanesian friendship is sure that Mr. Worts (Worth's) death is not due to the so-called claim of Pneumonia. Considering the episodes involved it will come out clear that his death was a cleverly devised scheme and clandestinely executed.
Initially the hotel where Mr. Worts (Worth's) was being accommodated at is a West Papuan Hotel and it is a hot spot for the state terrorist, The Kopassus. They always hang around there monitoring suspicious activities. Hence it is logical and not off the track to be 100% sure that while Mr.Worts is there, they are sure to be around keeping an eye out for him. Who would want to ignore and not monitor Mr. Worths (Worth's) a person who's at the core of exposing all the dust under the carpet within the Indonesian Regime against the West
Papuans and the Indonesians as well. They were there and that's for sure.
The next thing is that they killed Mr. Worths (Worth's). The Kopassus. How do we know. Let us consider this particular episode. Just after he was found dead in his room. Funeral arrangements proceeded immediately. Just within two days he was already buried.
It is a very interesting scenario. Of all the mysterious deaths as Mr. Worts (Worth's) that I have read and known of, they go through due process of establishing the actual cause of the death before exiting swiftly through the escape door-the burial. This case here is very much a rare kind. Nobody is interested in how he died neither his wife nor his employer. That raises a lot of eye browse. Why are there no interests in trying to establish the cause of his death. Do they all have a justified reason? It is open to any conclusion. But for us the Melanesian Friendship, the whole episode tells a story of a person who was a victim of a clandestine operation by the Kopassus, hence was buried swiftly so as to side step due process of establishing the cause of his death which no doubt will implicate them.
Again the Melanesian Friendship strongly call for a concerted approach to stemming out such acts so as not to befall another of the dedicated peoples of the kinds of Late Mr. Worts (Worth).
FILM AUSTRALIA COMMENT ON DEATH OF
JOURNALIST/FILMMAKER MARK WORTH
Film Australia CEO, Sharon Connolly, today expressed the company’s sadness on learning of the death, after an illness, of filmmaker and journalist, Mark Worth, writer/director of the documentary, Land of the Morning Star.
After graduating from Swinburne Film and Television School in 1984, Mark Worth began making documentaries in the Asia Pacific region with an emphasis on his birthplace, Papua New Guinea. Since then, his work on Papua and PNG has been aired on programs such as Dateline (SBS), Foreign Correspondent (ABC) and Hindsight (ABC Radio National), on the UK’s Channel 4 and in publications such as The Australian.
During those years of reporting and recording tumultuous events in Papua, Mark had been keen to make a documentary film which dealt with the causes and realities of the continuing troubles in the western half of the island of New Guinea.
That film, Land of the Morning Star, will have its Australian television premiere on ABC TV Monday 2 February at 8.30 pm.
Directed by Mark Worth, it was produced for Film Australia by Janet Bell. “It was my privilege to help Mark bring to fruition the film he’d been wanting to make for more than a decade – a documentary about Papua and its epic story; a story taking place on Australia’s doorstep,” she said today.
“Mark Worth made an enormous contribution to Australians’ knowledge of Papua and PNG. It is tragic that Land of the Morning Star is his last work, but Film Australia is proud and grateful to have supported his fine and important documentary,“ said Sharon Connolly.
Film Australia is an Australian Government-owned company, which supports production and distribution of documentaries in the national interest.
To Order a Copy of "Land of the Morning Star" see Film Australia web site.
LAND OF THE MORNING STAR
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MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE INVOLVED
Land of the Morning Star
(22 December 1958 - 15 January 2004)
Mark Worth died on 15 January 2004, less than a month before Land of the Morning Star had its Australian television premiere on ABC TV.
"Mark Worth made an enormous contribution to Australians' knowledge of Papua and PNG. It is tragic that Land of the Morning Star is his last work, but Film Australia is proud and grateful to have supported his fine and important documentary," said Film Australia CEO Sharon Connolly.
Filmmaker and journalist Mark Worth was born in Papua New Guinea in 1958 on Manus Island, which was at the time an Australian military base. He had a BA in Media from RMIT and a Graduate Diploma in Film and TV Studies from Swinburne (1984). Mark began his career as a camera operator at Channel 7, Melbourne and became an independent filmmaker in 1986.
Mark spoke fluent pidgin English, and was a specialist in the region, having covered conflicts in West Papua, PNG, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia for over 15 years.
He produced and directed documentaries for SBS TV's Masterpiece, Cutting Edge and Dateline programs, as well as ABC TV's Foreign Correspondent, Lateline and news programs. Mark also produced five one-hour radio documentaries for ABC Radio National's Hindsight and Radio Eye, and was a regular contributor to Asia Pacific current affairs.
One story covered by Mark was the May 1999 Indonesian hostage crisis by OPM rebels on the PNG border. The hostages were released but Mark's personal OPM fixer, Max Tago, was caught and executed by the military. Mark also covered the historic first peaceful flag raising in Jayapura.
Working in the field as a freelance journalist, Mark filed for The Australian newspaper and wrote for IF and Australian Style magazines.
Mark's work for Dateline (SBS) on West Papua received award nominations and his films Raskols (about New Guinea's gangs) and Super 8 Soldiers (Vietnam) were nominated for prestigious awards, including three 1995 AFI Awards for the former.
Janet Bell has been in broadcasting since the mid 1970s when she was a founding member of The Australian Women's Broadcasting Cooperative. In 1981 she moved from ABC Radio to television to produce and direct children's programs.
From 1981 to 1983 Janet was producer/director on A Big Country, a documentary series on rural Australia, and in 1984 she was seconded to Film Australia for 12 months to run the Women's Film Unit. Following this, she produced and directed the ABC current affairs program Four Corners.
As Executive Producer at Film Australia from 1986 to 1991, Janet oversaw the production of the documentaries Contradictions, winner of the Reuben Mamoulian Award 1989, and The Babyboomers Picture Show, the ABC's highest-rating documentary for 1991.
In the decade since 1993, Janet produced Invisible Enemies (1992) for Film Australia, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, The White Plague (1993) for ABC's Four Corners, and two episodes of What's Your Poison, a five- part ABC series on drugs.
Recently, Janet was executive producer on two ABC series, In the Mind of the Architect (2000), about the architect in modern Australia, and Australian Dynasties: From Macarthur to Murdoch (2001).
During a career of more than 30 years, Stewart has edited the Oscar-nominated films Frontline, Chile Hasta Cuando and First Contact, and won AFI Awards for the documentaries Nicaragua No Pasaran, Rocking the Foundations and Year of the Dogs.
In 2003, Film Australia presented Stewart with the fourth Stanley Hawes Award at the Australian International Documentary Conference in recognition of his ongoing contribution to the industry.
One of Australia's most sought after soundtrack composers, David Bridie first came to attention as a member of two successful bands.
Between 1984 and 1994, Not Drowning, Waving built a reputation for innovative music that crossed genre boundaries including world music, neo-classical, rock and pop. On piano and vocals, David was a strong songwriting force.
After writing a number of songs that didn't fit into the Not Drowning, Waving style, David and fellow band member Helen Mountfort formed My Friend The Chocolate Cake, with the intention of playing all acoustic music. This band emerged as a popular ensemble with a unique sound.
In 1996 Not Drowning, Waving performed as part of the Next Wave Festival, which brought together indigenous musical culture from across Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait Islands.
In 1990 David was composer on the acclaimed feature film Proof. He has since composed for seven more films, including What I Have Written (1995), Idiot Box (1995) and The Man Who Sued God (2001). In 2001 he composed the soundtrack to a television mini-series, My Brother Jack.
In May 2000, David released his debut solo album, Act of Free Choice, followed in April 2003 by the release of his second solo effort, Hotel Radio.
Former West Papuan Politician
Clemens was born on Seerui Island in North West Papua, and grew up in a fishing family. He was educated by Dutch missionaries and in 1958 was chosen by the Dutch to be part of the "Papuanisation" plan for West Papuan self-government, and groomed to be an international diplomat for West Papua. He was elected to the original New Guinea Council of 1960-63. Later he joined the Indonesian Parliament in the belief that he could ensure that the 1969 referendum elections for the Act of Free Choice would be fairly conducted.
Clemens spoke out about the fairness of the Act and was put on the Indonesian "red list". He was voted by 5000 Papuans in May 1969 to travel to the United Nations and report first-hand that the Act was going to be a sham. He was arrested before boarding the plane and barely escaped with his life to Australian New Guinea where he was jailed as a refugee on Manus Island. The Australian government held Clemens at the behest of the Indonesian government until the UN had passed the Act. After his release, he became a UNESCO diplomat in France for PNG in the late 1970s. He later joined the public service in Port Moresby as a school teacher and rose to become the head of the PNG Education Department until his retirement in 1994.
He is 62 years old but hasn't lost his boyish enthusiasm and charm. Despite the adversity he has experienced, he is a man of great optimism and a natural storyteller. He has a Masters degree in Linguistics from Monash University and is fluent in English, Dutch, Indonesian Bahasa, Melanesian Pidgin and his own language from Serui.
Today he lives in exile in PNG. His wife Maria died of cancer three years ago and he is raising four children on his own. He sells fish from the market to Chinese restaurants to support his family.
Land of the Morning Star
In 1969, aged 10, I was living on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea when the United Nations Act of Free Choice took place in West Papua (then called West Irian). At the time, I knew little of the event but then the refugees began arriving to be resettled near Lorengau, our local town.
We used to drive past the refugee compound and watch the workers erect cyclone fencing. These refugees were not village people - many of them wore shirts, ties, trousers and spoke good English. The memory of that camp made me want to know more about the history of West Papua and its people. Little did I know that some of the people behind that cyclone fence would later become good friends and help me make this film about their history.
After graduating from Swinburne Film and Television School in 1984, I began making documentaries in the Asia Pacific region with an emphasis on my birthplace, Papua New Guinea. By the early 1990s I had travelled all over PNG and wanted to see what the western half of the island of New Guinea was like. I knew the history of West Papua from my research and had heard from travellers that it was very different from PNG, but when I first travelled there in 1994 I was shocked and excited.
In contrast to PNG, West Papua's capital city Jayapura had law and order, a strong police presence, and even concrete policemen on street corners. You could walk around at night feeling safe, the shops were open and the streets were alive with night markets selling exotic food, vegetables, smoked fish, clove cigarettes, toys and clothes. Later I travelled up to Wamena in the snow-clad mountains and was amazed by the sight of naked Dani men walking around town wearing penis gourds, their hands proudly folded across their chests.
Since that first trip I have visited West Papua 14 times - filming and reporting stories for Channel 4 in the UK, SBS TV, ABC Radio and The Australian newspaper. During that time I discovered I was the only filmmaker reporting from the region who had a first-hand grasp of the country's history. I desperately wanted to make a film on West Papua. It seemed important to tell this great story taking place on Australia's "doorstep".
In 1996 I made a one-hour radio documentary for ABC's Hindsight program on the history of West Papua titled "The Mountain Is My Mother", which was re-broadcast on the eve of the elections in East Timor in August 1999. I received good feedback from the ABC who said that a former Film Australia colleague, Janet Bell, had rung to congratulate me.
I kept writing and pursuing the idea of a documentary as I kept filming and reporting extraordinary events that were happening in West Papua. In the year 2000 the reformist Indonesian President Wahid renamed the country "Papua" and made funds available to hold a congress to discuss the future of IndonesiaÕs 26th province.
It was at the Papuan Congress in May 2000 that I met Clemens Runaweri and decided to make a film with him. Clemens was a former West Papuan politician who had been living in exile in Papua New Guinea for 30 years. During the Act of Free Choice, Clemens was active as a politician and had demonstrated against Indonesia's occupation of his country. He had escaped into PNG where he was imprisoned on Manus Island by Australian authorities. Clemens was now back in his homeland participating in the Congress, seeing old friends and enemies. I decided to film him and his impressions of the country he called home. Together we revisited old parts of the Dutch capital (Hollandia) and he remarked on how the place had changed from a neat colonial township to a bustling Asian city.
On my return to Australia, I began work with Janet Bell as a producer on a historical documentary on West Papua to be produced under Film Australia's National Interest Program. The project gathered an ominous gravity when Chief Theys Eluay, who had been voted President of the Congress Presidium, was found murdered by Indonesian Kopassus soldiers. I began writing the script in the PNG border town of Vanimo over Christmas, and then returned to Australia in February for a research trip around NSW and Queensland with Janet Bell, interviewing subjects for the film.
The first draft of the script was completed with the help of Janet and script editor Ian David (Blue Murder) in May 2002. In July I went to West Papua and returned to Sydney only to be hospitalised with dengue fever.
The production commenced in October 2002, with cinematographer Phillip Bull and sound recordist Grant Roberts for our shoot in Sydney, Brisbane, Port Moresby and Vanimo in PNG. We then travelled to the PNG-Indonesian border with Clemens Runaweri and shot sequences of Clemens reminiscing about his life and his motherland. Fresh advice from Ian David and distinguished documentary maker Bob Connolly came our way and we finished the film in June.
As I have often worked as a "one-man-band reporter", this film is important to me because it was a truly collaborative effort. It was a great experience to work at Film Australia with the finest practitioners of the documentary craft, including the production staff who gave their all to see the film realised to its highest potential.
Land of the Morning Star
Australia 2004, 55 minutes, Director: Mark Worth
For centuries world powers have jostled for control of the rugged, isolated land of West Papua with its strategic position and abundant natural resources. This is an epic story of colonial ambitions, cold war sell outs and fervent nationalism featuring rare archival film and eyewitness accounts.
“…a forceful chronicle of the bastardry and oppression that the West Papuan people have endured throughout their history…With its many heartbreaking eyewitness accounts, this is a devastating tale, told in compelling fashion. Truly not to be missed.” - The Age, Melbourne
“For those who prefer a well-made documentary to fruity frivolity, this covers the turbulent colonial history of what is now Papua but has also been known as Netherlands New Guinea, West Papua and Irian Jaya… Sadly, Worth died recently in a Papuan hospital aged 45. This documentary is a tribute to his passion for the region, as well as a compelling overview of a story very similar to East Timor’s (including Australian involvement).” - Sydney Morning Herald
“Australian film icon Rachel Griffiths narrates this intriguing documentary about the western half of the island of New Guinea… Eyewitness accounts and rare archival footage provide insights into a place torn between Western power plays and a diverse regional culture.” - Canberra Times
From Popcorn Tax And Vale Mark Worth
p o p c o r n t a x i m e l b o u r n e
COMING UP SOON Here's a brief list of events that we are planning for the next two months. Please mark these in your diary if they interest you and check the popcorn taxi website for more information and updates as they occur:
6:30pm Saturday 31 January 2004 DOGS IN SPACE with RICHARD LOWENSTEIN CHAT Once-only retrospective screening of the classic 80's Australian cult film, DOGS IN SPACE followed by a chat and audience Q&A with writer/director RICHARD LOWENSTEIN. Also screening is never before seen on-set interviews with Michael Hutchence and Sam Sejavka. This show is presented in association with the ACMI "Resistance" season of Australian Counter-Culture Films. ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Admission 18+ $11/$8
7:30pm Tuesday 17 February 2004 ONE PERFECT DAY with FILMMAKER CHAT Preview of new indie feature film directed by PAUL CURRIE shot amongst Melbourne rave culture, starring DAN SPIELMAN (Secret Life of Us), LEEANNA WALSMANN (Star Wars), ABBIE CORNISH (Horseplay), NATHAN PHILLIPS (Australian Rules) and KERRIE ARMSTRONG (MDA, Lantana). Filmmaker chat after screening with director, producer and some of the cast. ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Admission M15+ $15/$13
7:30pm Tuesday 24 February 2004 CHASING GOD with FILMMAKER Q&A Narrated by award winning comedian DAWN FRENCH (The Vicar of Dibley), this thought-provoking film asks: why do humans believe in a higher power? By interviewing scientists, atheists and religious leaders from diverse faiths, this groundbreaking local documentary explores the motivations of man to believe in something bigger and more powerful than himself, today and throughout the ages. A globetrotting excursion into what people believe in. Post-screening filmmaker Q&A with directors, LENNY DE VRIES and DYLAN BURTON and soundtrack composer from UK, Massive Attacks MICHAEL TIMOTHY. ACMI Cinemas, Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Admission 18+ $13/$11
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MARK WORTH - A TRIBUTE
On January 15 2004, filmmaker Mark Worth died in West Papua. He was 45 and had just returned home to his wife and daughter after completing his latest documentary for Film Australia "The Land of the Morning Star". popcorn taxi had been in discussion with Film Australia to launch this film with Mark early in 2004.
Worthy grew up in PNG and Australia and spent a lot of his life in Melbourne, having studied Media at RMIT and Film & TV at Swinburne in the early 1980's. His infectious spirit touched many people. At that time, he also made films for the Super 8 Film Group, documented the work of the Roar artists, did live visual shows, as well as video clips, for bands like Dorian Gray and Not Drowning Waving. His passion for the Papua region also inspired the work of musicians like David Bridie and fellow filmmakers Mark Davis and John Hillcoat.
In the 1990's, he started to focus on documentaries with "Super 8 Soldiers", "Tabaran" and "Revolt into Style". From there, he learned quickly to adapt his skills into short-form docs for programs like Foreign Correspondent, Witness and Dateline. Many of these pieces he also adapted into spectacular ABC Radio documentaries and pieces for the print media. Too often he risked his life venturing into dangerous regions to tell stories on cultures that he was passionate about. As a result, he has left the legacy of a vast body of work spanning over twenty years.
Mark Worth was a driven man - an artist brimming with creativity, raw intellect and a fire in his belly - a master of the 3am rant, greatly generous to his colleagues and with great fury upon mediocrity.
ABC-TV will broadcast "The Land of the Morning Star" on Monday 2 February at 8:30pm. If you knew Mark and would like to join a few of his mates to watch this broadcast, come to Loop, Meyers Place, Melbourne from 8pm for a drink. Afterwards, there will be a screening of his near-completed documentary "Dead Man's Party". This will be a private function for those who knew Mark or have an interest in his life and work. Bye Bye, you little Raskol.
In Memory: Mark Worth
Mark Worth passed away on Thursday in Jayapura, West Papua. He was with his wife Helen and daughter Inzoraki at the time. He had been ill for a little while...
However his "Land of the Morning Star" doco on West Papua is to be screened on February 2nd on the ABC. This film is in many regards his greatest work and the culmination of his life pursuit. It is a passionate and intelligent appraisal of why West Papua is an issue of the highest importance. It's such a shame Worthy won't be around to hear the plaudits which will no doubt be pured upon him. It is a remarkable film...
Mark was not only one of my closest and greatest mates but also the inspiration for me going to PNG in the first place,and instilled in me a great sense of adventure and compassion for Melanesia. This led to the three Telek records, the Sing Sing and Morning Star concerts and everything else. Of course he also did live visuals for early Not Drowning, Waving shows as well as the film clips for The Same Heat, The Kiap Song, Up in the Mountains, Sing Sing, Blackwater and of course the Tabaran documentary on NDW's trip to Rabaul. All of us in NDW feel that Mark is an honorary member. We all feel his loss...
I worked with him on his "Super 8 Soldiers" film about Vietnam vets with Super 8 cameras, doing the soundtrack with John Phillips as well as the "Raskols" documentary about crime gangs in the Highlands of PNG and recently the "Land of the Morning Star" documentary.
Mark did a lot of work with Foreign Correspondent and Radio National in Melanesia covering the Bougainville crisis, elections in PNG as well as developments in West Papua. Mark also pioneered live visuals working with Wild Dog Rodeo and Dorian Grey and the Models in the seminal Melbourne music industry of the early 80s...
He loved stringband music and Lou Reed. His intelligence and knowledge was inspiring to listen to. He was a great story teller. He loathed mediocrity, conservatism and the mainstream film and music industry with a wonderful vengeance.
He was a one off. Life will be poorer without him.
Please watch the doco on February 2nd and remember him.
January 18, 2004
heartstarters for the hungry mind
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February 18, 2004
The death of Mark Worth, a documentary filmmaker who recently completed "Land of the Morning Star" broadcast on the ABC, has shaken his community. We are not used to death and the contemplation of mortality. It came soon after the loss of activist and filmmaker Andrew McNaughtan.
Carmela Baranowska, who made "Scenes from an Occupation" and "Welcome to Independence" about East Timor, was a friend and colleague. I asked her to write a personal meditation on Mark's life in documentary and the impact of his death. It will also be published in the print edition of Metro on February 26th.
Mark Worth (1958-2004)
January is the hottest month. John Martinkus rings and in his slow and thoughtful way says, "I have some bad news". It‚s then that I experience a terrible flashback. It‚s a fortnight earlier and John is ringing to tell me that Andrew McNaughtan is dead. But this time it‚s another friend, Mark Worth. Dead. And I ask the automatic questions we ask of the living: Are you sure? Who told you? How did it happen? But this time I also say "I don‚t believe it."
Mark Worth. Dead. I can‚t even read what I‚ve just written without feeling a mixture of stunned disbelief, shock and yes, anger. "Worthy" was larger than life. And he was unstoppable - as a person, as a documentary filmmaker and as a friend. Death has made Mark Worth into a myth. But I want to write about the life - before I can describe the man.
Andrew and Mark. Two friends in one month. Two friends who also knew each other; as we all know each other in our small world and in our large region. Two friends who were Australian, who didn‚t want to be European or American and who looked outward, to our region, for inspiration. At a time of growing Australian insularity when both governments and broadcasters are turning inwards they were the true innovators. They took us along with them on their journey. They were heroic. And I salute them.
Andrew and East Timor. They will always be linked. Sydney, May 1999: a long telephone conversation with Andrew. I have just returned from a two month stay in East Timor. It‚s the time of Kosovo and continuing international indifference about East Timor. I have filmed some undeniable evidence that Eurico Guterres, the militias and Indonesian military are inextricably linked and I can hear down the line that Andrew is happy. Andrew is also a documentary filmmaker, although history will not accord him that status. His footage from the Dili Spring of 1998 when university students took to the villages and the countryside in a spirit of reformasi is unique. He travels with them, his HI8 camera on his shoulder, always documenting, always hoping against hope that East Timor will become independent.
Dili: July 1999 in the Hotel Turismo; Andrew, always smiling, both relaxed and serious in his razor sharp analysis of the worsening situation. When the UN and NGO workers refuse to let Andrew come on the aid convoy for fear that an "activist" will jeopardise their operation he simply decides to hijack another four wheel drive himself. When we return to Dili we pass burning villages and some militia members at a checkpoint start waving their handmade guns in our direction. Andrew simply places his foot on the accelerator and we screech away to safety.
Darwin, September 1999: after we‚re evacuated from the UN Compound in Dili, Andrew on the telephones at the solidarity group ETISC in an office above a pizza shop in a bland Australian suburb day and night campaigning, lobbying, arguing for an international peacekeeping force. In the end success is ours. East Timor is now independent. Andrew Mcnaughtan elevated the term "activist" to a position of moral reckoning.
John sighs and says he‚ll ring the others. John has the journalist‚s ability, responsibility and strength to transmit the bad news in a seemingly endless spiral of chaos and death. It‚s what I remember best about John in Dili in 1999 ˆ and what I thank him for now.
He hangs up the phone and I try to think about the narration I am writing for my documentary. I try to work on the film that I am attempting to methodically put together while the rest of Australia is on holiday. But Mark is dead. And I know that I have to start to make sense of everything.
Back in 1998 Catherine Gough-Brady and I had decided to set up Documenter, an internet magazine on documentary. We‚d just completed the new Documentary course at VCA SFT and we‚d been taught, in that strange combination of idealism and naivety, that we could do anything. We looked around and came across Mark Worth‚s writing in IF Magazine. From that moment began the cross-city three hour phone conversations. Mark liked the fact that we had reached out to him. Here we were in our Melbourne fastness, in that city that he had left behind many years before and which he‚d always had a love-hate relationship with, as so many of us do. We were beginning something new.
It was Dennis O‚Rourke‚s films that brought us together as friends. The ideal was embodied in this philosophy: live every-day in the tropics, spend years on a film, really get to know the people, the place, the language. It was Hemingway; yes, but it was also a dream we hoped to make reality. For Mark filmmaking was really about life. He was always talking about a film he was going to make, was shooting or editing. While I mourn a person I also mourn a way of life. It‚s what economic rationalists and public servants always fail to understand. The director is the auteur - and not the producer or bureaucrat. Documentaries are sublime. Documentaries are art. Documentaries help make sense of a world that is often cruel, unforgiving and yet, sometimes joyous.
Dennis O‚Rourke‚s films had inspired Mark to become a filmmaker in the early 1980s. We shared a great love for films like Yumi Yet, Ileksen, Shark Callers of Kontu and Cannibal Tours, all wildly ground-breaking in the content, form and feeling of both Australian and international cinema.
All these films were based in Papua New Guinea, where Mark was born. I see Mark as someone belonging to a great line of filmmakers, stretching back in time for whom the "personal" was a motivating force in all that they did. John Cassavetes is my own favourite in the pantheon. For these filmmakers their own lives were the starting point for all that came after ˆ the profound to the banal had to be investigated, turned over and prodded. It was Mark‚s early years in Papua New Guinea which were the formative and determining influence on his life. He grew up between the Mornington Peninsula and Manus Island. Even when he was quite still Mark was always travelling. He fought against the sedentary lifestyle with great gusto and recklessness. While Mark lived for many years in Sydney his mind was always in Papua.
Papua. Mark‚s obsession and love, the great island to our north divided in the middle by both colonialism and stupidity. And as with any true love it both imprisoned and freed him. Sometimes he would speak with wonderment and awe and at other times he would rail and rant against the whole damn thing. Papua also consumed him. Mark‚s long-term project was the documentary archive. He was an encyclopedic living compendium of people, news, articles, books, photos, footage, music and sounds.
Land of the Morning Star is a very fine and powerful example of his work. Mark sensed that he would be criticised for the conventionality of his narrative and he countered by saying that he simply wanted to tell the history of West Papua. And his film, amazingly, is the first time that a documentary has done that. It was more than just jumping on the latest bandwagon that rolled by for Mark and he had little time for poseurs. He railed against the cold political indifference of Australian and American politicians who conveniently looked the other way when West Papua‚s political fate was decided in the 1960s ˆ and continue to do so today. But Mark also directed Super 8 Soldiers, Revolt Into Style, Act of No Choice, Dead Man‚s Party, countless radio documentaries and wrote many newspaper articles.
The first memorial for Mark is at the beach in Middle Park, opposite a house where he lived in the 1980s. I know that Mark would have hated the weather. A cold, very cold Melbourne evening. But it‚s still a beautiful grey. We gather and suddenly I feel really young. If it were a film it would be called "The Last Days of Swinburne" and you would see the joggers in the half-evening light turning their heads at the small group of mourners in a circle on the beach, listening to Lou Reed and exchanging reminiscences.
For someone like me and the generation that came after Swinburne in the mid 80s was all mixed up together: grunge and the avant-garde; Dziga Vertov and Sam Fuller; memories of Nick Cave and the Crystal Ballroom; art, fashion, music. Even though Mark and I studied there at different times we were both taught by Peter Tammer whose own brilliant films are often sadly forgotten today. The aesthetic was DIY filmmaking and the content was guerrilla, a no-prisoners, no holds barred approach to documentary.
Mark was one of the first exponents of what is today called the "one-man band of filmmakers". Often belittled by wannabes or those who are too disparaging to understand or care, this is a movement that continues to grow and for those of us involved in it Mark was always extremely supportive. There are so many of us who became filmmakers, artists, musicians, journalists who Mark encouraged and then encouraged some more: Mark Davis, David Bridie, Ben Bohane, Bentley Dean, Marcus Gillezeau, John Martinkus and countless others. Mark understood where you were going and he accompanied you for just that extra mile. It was the Jayapura Room and Worthyworld and all of us were so privileged to have been invited along for the ride.
In a world of growing masculine timidity and fickleness Mark was courageous. He was one of the last of the "archetypal" Australian men, although, with a shock, I realise that he was only 45 when he died. It was more than just a stereotype to say that he believed in mateship and a "fair go". Mark lived life as he saw it and in that quintessential Australian sense he hated being told what to do ˆ by anyone. His fights with some producers were legendary. He did not suffer fools gladly. He never asked "what‚s the drama" but instead preferred to actively go "where" it was; to seek out the lessons of every-day life. All this came at a tremendous cost: the mood swings and the demanding requests he sometimes expected from his friends and loved ones.
Tullamarine Airport, 9am. The same awful wait at the tarmac. Delta Goodrem on the TV monitor and the Collingwood Football Club in the seats around me; a bad cup of hospital strength tea and lemon tart for breakfast. After ninety minutes we‚re in Sydney and it‚s like arriving in another country.
Inside the church at La Perouse it‚s so intense, all those unanswered questions and interrupted conversations hanging in the air. The orations are unforgettable. Mark Davis is brilliant. Jack Strocchi is dazzling. David Bridie sings what has now become the Mark Worth anthem, Lou Reed‚s "Perfect Day". There‚s no-one left who knows so much about West Papua and I feel deep distress. The world is now more sanitised and less wild. Arguments and love; vitriol and laughter are now replaced by quick phone calls or no phone calls at all.
At the Icebergs in Bondi I meet old friends and make new ones. Even in death Mark is bringing people together. I stand on the balcony and realise that wherever Mark lived he could always see the horizon. Middle Park, Bondi, West Papua. The horizon that had formed him and that he always wanted to document. The horizon that would stretch into infinity.
But in the end there was death and any story about Mark has to stop in West Papua, where he is now buried. On the winding road from Jayapura to Abepura in West Papua there is a simple memorial to Theys Eluey, the independence leader assassinated by the Indonesian military. When West Papuans pass by in a car you can often see them silently acknowledge Theys‚s death by a simple expression, glance or look. For West Papua is now a closed province. Kidnappings, killings, repression and fear are routine. Foreign journalists are banned.
I know that Mark was especially saddened by Theys's death, a larger-than-life politician whose journey he had so meticulously documented. But today let us put grief aside and let the work of Theys and Mark continue to be an inspiration to all of us not to forget West Papua‚s continuing demand for independence. For one day West Papua, like East Timor, will be free. And as for Mark Worth, I shall always miss him.
Mark is survived by his wife Helen, daughter Insoraki and many family and friends. His death will be mourned and celebrated in Australia, Indonesia, West Papua and Papua New Guinea.
Posted by barista at February 18, 2004 08:46 PM
PAPUA: Journalist Mark Worth's sudden death shocks
The death of Australian print, radio and film journalist Mark Worth has shocked Papuans and all those involved in the campaign to free West Papua from brutal repression by the Indonesian military
Pacific Media Watch
Saturday, January 17, 2004
SENTANI (RW/Pacific Media Watch): The death of Australian print, radio and film journalist Mark Worth has shocked Papuans and all those involved in the campaign to free West Papua from brutal repression by the Indonesian military.
Mark died from unknown causes in a hotel room in Sentani, West Papua, yesterday, January 15. Mark is survived by his Papuan wife Helen and baby daughter Insoraki.
Mark was born in PNG and spent most of his life in PNG and West Papua. He spent most of the last 15 years producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their struggle for self-determination. Mark's influential documentary films include the 'Act of No Choice'.
His death must be treated as suspicious when recent events in West Papua are considered, and because it came just two days after the announcement by ABC television that his latest documentary Land of the Morning Star would premier on Australian television on Monday 2 February [http://www.pmw.c2o.org/2004/papua4273.html
]. Mark described this film as his 'life-time project', and he spent the best part of the last ten years researching, collecting footage and interviewing Papuans to make what will be a lasting memorial to this committed journalist.
Recent weeks have seen a major escalation in intimidation and provocation by Indonesia. In the last few days five Papuans have been sentenced to between 20 years and life for their alleged involvement in a raid on a military post in Wamena. By contrast, the nine soldiers also involved received sentences of just 6 to 14 months. Papuans students are also being held in prison in Jakarta after a demonstration and face 20 years in jail, and seven highland leaders are being held in jail in Jayapura.
And this week infamous former police chief of East Timor, Timbul Silaen, who was charged with gross human rights violations during the 1999 East Timor atrocities, took up his post as Papuan police chief. And on Monday, in an act that shows there is no limit to Indonesia's provocation, a small island off East Timor was bombed by the Indonesian navy.
Mark was widely believed to have been linked to the recent footage, which featured on SBS Dateline last November, of OPM leaders making appeals to the international community for help to bring about peaceful dialogue to solve the problems West Papua. Two days after the footage was screened, ten Papuans, including one of the leaders who featured in the film, were shot as they slept in a raid by 200 Indonesian soldiers. Their bodies were later displayed like hunting trophies.
When Mark's high profile and reputation as an honest and influential journalist is considered, along with the recent events, is it any wonder that many view his death as suspicious? It is vital that Mark's death be fully and independently investigated.
When West Papua finally gains independence, Mark's contribution to that freedom will long be remembered by Papuans.
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Date Posted: 1/17/2004
Mark Worth: RIP
By Jake Howard with Adam Pesce and Steve Barilotti
If you've ever taken a hardcore surf trip chances are you've had The Surf Report stuffed in your back pocket. Sadly, on January 17, 2004 The Surf Report and the journalism world as a whole suddenly and unexpectedly lost one of its own. Australian journalist and documentary maker, Mark Worth, was found dead in a hotel room in Papua New Guinea under extremely suspicious circumstances. His death is still being investigated at this time.
Mark spent most of the last 15 years producing radio programs, writing articles and producing documentary films about the West Papuan people and their quest for freedom from the Indonesian government. It is believed that Mark was linked to recent footage that was featured on SBS Dateline last November in which resistance leaders made appeals to the international community for help in bringing about a peaceful solution to the problems between West Papua and the Indonesian government. Tragically, two days after the footage was shown, ten Papuans, including one of the leaders seen on tape, were shot in their sleep during a raid by 200 Indonesian soldiers. Once again demonstrating man's unbelievable ability to be brutally ruthless towards his fellow man.
Considering the circumstances it is little wonder that Mark's death remains a "mystery." Knowledge is power. Mark knew and documented a lot. He was the embodiment of what a journalist should be. He is survived by his Papuan wife Helen and baby daughter Insoraki.
For more on the life and death of Mark Worth visit this site or this site.
Sydney Morning Herald/Ben Bohane: 3 February 2004
A GUERILLA AND A ONE-MAN BAND
Mark Worth, who has died of pneumonia at 45, was one of Australia's finest frontier cameramen. He aspired to the pantheon of great Australian documentary filmmakers and conflict cameramen - Frank Hurley, Damien Parer and Neil Davis - and his contemporary peers included Dennis O'Rourke, Bob Connelly, Mark Davis and David Brill.
By BEN BOHANE
Feedback to the Toktok page
Mark Worth, Documentary filmmaker, 1958-2004
In the coastal village of Abepura in West Papua, one of Australia and the Pacific's great underground artists was recently laid to rest. His name was Mark Worth, although he went by a variety of nicknames, including Kurtz, Captain Kino, Captain Kaos and, affectionately, Worthy.
Worth, who died of pneumonia at 45, was one of Australia's finest frontier cameramen. He aspired to the pantheon of great Australian documentary filmmakers and conflict cameramen - Frank Hurley, Damien Parer and Neil Davis - and his contemporary peers included Dennis O'Rourke, Bob Connelly, Mark Davis and David Brill.
Invariably, the first thing Worth would say when introduced was, "I was born in New Guinea." In many ways it defined him and he wore it as a badge. He was spiritually caught between black and white worlds and his art came out of this tension, which he was never quite able to reconcile. He had the ability to tell stories at apparently opposite ends of the spectrum, from social histories of Australia's avant-garde to sober political documentaries about the region.
One story, in particular, gripped Worth for decades - that of West Papua and its struggle for independence. Worth believed it to be the great untold story of injustice in our region and completed his documentary for Film Australia on the subject, Land of the Morning Star, just months before he died. It was shown on ABC TV last night.
Worth leaves behind perhaps a dozen other films, from experimental collages to anthropological documentaries to news and current affairs pieces for ABC, SBS and the Nine Network.
A whole generation of video journalists have him to thank for opening the door to the one-man-band style of guerilla filmmaking to be found today on ABC and SBS current affairs and programs such as Race Around the World.
Although his life was cut short, Worth packed a lot into it. He lived his art more than most and was utterly uncompromising in his approach. At times I see his life as one long performance piece, an epic soliloquy traversing the whole range of human emotion. While his films will resonate across time, for those who knew him, his film, radio and writing were in a way just offshoots of the art of himself, his day-to-day existence which displayed his generosity and grand storytelling ability in the great oral tradition of our region.
Storytelling was a compulsion for him, as was his need to argue. It sometimes made him a cantankerous, stubborn and brittle character and he was capable of verbal decapitation of the unsuspecting. Yet his rages were more often than not his way of drawing you closer, to engage with you more deeply. He would say "I can't live without fighting", and almost daily attacked a variety of countries, governments and individuals. He could also be perfectly charming.
His hero was Lou Reed and he retained his punk sensibility until the day he died. He managed to combine the sensitivity of a Beat poet, the angry energy of punk and an academic's drive for historical accuracy.
"He was an absolute original," said Mark Davis, the SBS Dateline presenter and journalist who knew Worth since their days at Swinburne Film School in Melbourne.
"He was more Papuan than even he realised and he landed, like a Martian, into the greyness of Melbourne, bursting with stories of other worlds. There was no art, no music, no political crisis that didn't have a brilliant parallel in tribal Melanesia. A generation of artists, journalists and filmmakers were drawn into the region through Mark.
"He was a steam train and a lot of people wanted to get on board. I certainly did. He changed my life and I will miss him forever."
Worth was born on Manus Island off the mainland of PNG, when it was an Australian naval base. His father, Geoff, was chief petty officer on the base and Mark would later describe the idyllic childhood he spent there, playing around the World War II wrecks, exploring the jungle and cruising the islands in patrol boats. He was a Scout leader who visualised the day when perhaps he would be trekking through the rugged interior of PNG as a kiap (patrol officer), dispensing justice in a "firm but fair" way. However, there was pressure on Australia at the United Nations to begin decolonisation and so PNG moved quickly to independence in 1975. It was time for "the Territorians" to go "home" to Australia.
"Mark would have made for a good patrol officer," said John Allen, himself a former kiap and ASIO agent.
"He was a clever bloke who knew the people and was respected there. But there was a mad dash for independence and a whole generation of white Aussie kids who'd grown up there had to integrate themselves into Australia, sometimes not very successfully."
The Worth family moved to the south coast of Victoria, where Mark threw himself into surfing (a lifelong passion), joined a sharpie gang and discovered the music of the Velvet Underground, Bowie and the Stooges.
By the late 1970s Melbourne had a lively punk scene and Worth took up semi-residency at the Chrystal Ballroom, where he hung out with bands such as the Sacred Cowboys, the Models and Dorian Grey. He did light shows for Nick Cave and the Birthday Party and Dead Can Dance.
"I first met Worthy around 1980 through the menace that was the Chrystal Ballroom," said photographer Peter Bainbridge. "People likened it to Berlin in the 1930s. The list of people who went through those doors and made it their house of learning is astonishing ... we made it our second bedroom."
After putting himself through film school at Swinburne, Worth began making experimental films but was equally inspired to make documentaries with an anthropological bent.
His first documentary for Film Australia, Super 8 Soldiers, told the stories of Australian conscripts sent to the Vietnam War through the home movies they shot there. Home movies would recur in his later films and he became a master of blending archival footage and music.
In the mid-1980s he came into contact with the Melbourne band Not Drowning Waving. It became a long collaboration and friendship. Lead singer David Bridie, who has gone on to become Australia's foremost indigenous and Pacific Islander music producer and a film score composer, said: "To all the members of Not Drowning Waving, Worthy was considered its seventh member. It was he who persuaded us to go to Papua New Guinea, made us see the history, culture and music of grassroots PNG, which is an intense experience. He did great live show visuals for us, not to mention the five PNG-inspired film clips and music documentary Tabaran we did for SBS."
In 1989 Worth moved back to PNG to run a lodge on the Sepik River. The tribal art dealer and economist Jim Elmslie hired him and the two became close friends. "Worth ran a lodge I partly owned on the Sepik ... By the end we were getting very little communication from him and he got quite deep into local kastom [custom]," he said. "New Guinea was his great obsession and he was a living encyclopedia on the place."
Worth's 1995 film Raskols, about raskol gangs operating in the highlands in the middle of a tribal war, was controversial, not least because he ended up raskoling his own film - after a disagreement, he pre-empted his film for SBS with a shorter piece for ABC TV.
For the past decade Worth had based himself in Sydney, working in television current affairs and making evocative documentaries for Radio National. His last radio piece was on survivors of the Voyager naval disaster, including his father.
Worth was haunted and inspired by the plight of the West Papuans for much of his life. As a young boy on Manus Island he had witnessed the arrival of refugees from the sham UN-supervised Act of Free Choice which rubberstamped Indonesia's annexation of West Papua. Since then church groups estimate 100,000 people have perished under Indonesian rule.
Towards the end of his life Worth became increasingly haunted by the lives and deaths of two men. One was Errol Flynn, who had been a goldminer, prize fighter and patrol officer in Papua before he was whisked off to Hollywood by the filmmaker Charles Chauvel. The other man was Chief Theuys Eluay, the West Papuan independence leader assassinated by Indonesian Kompassus soldiers in 2001. Worth had interviewed him at length and felt that Theuys knew he would soon be martyred.
His ties to West Papua went beyond filmmaking. Some years ago he fell in love with Hellen, from Biak Island, with whom he had a daughter, Insoraki.Both survive him.
His burial on the outskirts of Jayapura was attended by hundreds of people, including local leaders and human rights activists. From Vanuatu, Andy Ayamiseba, of the West Papuan People's Representative Office, said : "It is shocking news to all of us in the Pacific and what a disaster to our own struggle to be missing someone of his calibre."
Worthy was the best natural storyteller I have ever known, in a business where stories are real currency. In that regard, where it really counts, he died a wealthy man. He was wanpla Big Man tru.