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What Lies That Way


Adult themes

What Lies That Way follows Paul Wolffram as he returns to the isolated rain forest community who hosted him 10 years earlier. Paul has come back determined to undergo the dangerous initiation process into the Buai shaman cult. Following several days of preparation Paul is taken to the oldest practitioner of Buai in the region. In a remote area of the forest Paul is given substances and left to fast without food or water for four days and nights, alone in the bush. The shamanistic practice promises access to enhanced creative power for those who can endure the fasting but the initiation also risks exposure to seductive darker powers. The film delves deep into the cultural encounter, a world of magic and sorcery, to seek and understand – What Lies That Way.

What Lies That Way is a unique film journey that plays with and extends the genre of documentary. The film blends traditional narrative structure with new forms of storytelling to allow for multiple understandings of the world and the many people and cultures that inhabit it.

What Lies That Way is not a National Geographic documentary that conveys an account of the “other”. Instead, the film delivers an experience of another culture through the eyes of the filmmaker. The narrative and approach of the film are based on a long-term relationship with the people of the Lak region, and a deep cultural understanding established through 15 years of interaction and shared experience. The film explores the film makers relationship with the Lak people who have provided access  their lives, their worldview and their secret practices.

Stylistically, the film’s form is inspired by local understandings of how people comprehend and interact with one another. In the rain forests of Southern New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, people refuse to speculate on the motivations of others: you come to know others through their actions and interactions with others. Consistent with this approach, the film takes the audience into the world of the Lak by showing the interactions.


Paul Wolffram – Producer/Director

Paul is a filmmaker who has made a number of feature documentary films in the Pacific Region. His films have won him national and international recognition including the Society of Visual Anthropology’s “Jean Rouch Award” for collaborative film making in the film “Stori Tumbuna – Ancestors’ Tales”. Paul Lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand with his wife Victoria and two children Harper and Millie.

Luke Frater – Cinematographer

Luke has worked as a freelance cinematographer and camera operator for the past 8 years based in Wellington, New Zealand. Luke has a distinctive cinematic eye and a commitment to creating emotive images. This is the second feature documentary project that Luke has undertaken with Paul Wolffram as director. Luke’s work on “Voices of the Land” (Wolffram 2014) won him recognition with a shared “Best Cinematography Award” at the Nepal International Film Festival and nominations for “Best Cinematography” at the Moa’s New Zealand Film Awards.

Mary-Lou Harris – Assistant Producer

Mary-Lou has a worked as a producer and production coordinator in radio, television and film over the last 6 years. She began her career working for TVNZ as a Researcher and writer, and moved on to script editing on TVNZ morning shows. Mary-Lou now works at Radio New Zealand as a producer and production coordinator.

Annie Collins – Supervising Editor

Annie Collins is known for her work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Out of the Blue (2006), Shopping (2013), Gardening with Soul (2013) to name just a few of the films she has edited. Annie has a very intuitive and distinctive approach to her editing work. She has worked as an advisor and mentor on this project since 2014.