A short film celebrating the creative economy for inclusive economic development.
For thousands of years, bilum weaving has been handed down from mothers to daughters across Papua New Guinea (PNG). It is an integral part of PNG’s cultural heritage and an important source of income for artisan women, especially those facing significant social and economic disadvantage. Yet despite bilum’s omniscient presence in PNG, its commercial and artistic value has remained relatively hidden, until recently.
This film celebrates the incredible PNG women social entrepreneurs who over 10 years ago began to shine a spotlight on bilum as a national treasure, whilst driving inclusive economic growth for women weavers. It shows just what is possible when emerging entrepreneurs have effective access to international markets, support to strengthen their supply chains and are empowered to share their creativity and culture with the world.
‘See these hands, these hands are as strong as my spirit. With these five fingers, I can make anything.’ Lina is the remarkable women behind the weavers in East Sepik region. Lina is a passionate creator, trainer and aggregator, connecting 800 weavers up and down the Sepik River with an international market.
Majorie lives in Port Moresby and is part of the next generation of bilum women. Majorie was raised by her mother in a village in East Sepik province and says her mother’s bilum sales ‘supported us through our education, food on the table, so I would say that the value is… it’s indescribable. I can’t even put a price on it.’.
Meet Donna from Kamanimbit village. Through bilum sales Donna has started a food market which is expanding. Through bilum sales Donna has been able to send her youngest son to school where he duxed his year. ‘It is because of these bilum weaving work that I do, I managed to pay for his schools fees and he is now doing his grade 10 in Port Moresby.’
Salome is from Bena in Goroka highlands. ‘Bilum plays a very important part in our lives, the lives of the mothers. Our ancestors taught us this.’ Salome gathers bags from women in the village and sells them in town, returing with money for the weavers. Through her bilum sales, Salome and her husband have been able to start a nature park, working with the local community.
Festivals & Event Screenings
The film was launched for a special virtual screening here from 24 February – 10 March 2022
“Our weavers are single mothers, women who people think have no value in the family. They are raising their children, paying their school fees, medical bills and building their own houses. And they are succeeding through bilum.”
Florence Jaukae Kamel
How to get involved
The creative and cultural industries in Papua New Guinea, are ready for growth and export opportunities. This includes bilum along with other products such as paintings, baskets, carvings and more.
“The creative industry in Papua New Guinea is an untapped resource. There’s a real demand now in the marketplace for sustainable, ethical products with deep meaning and stories, that also give back to the makers.”
Jessica, Bilum & Bilas