Power Meri


NITV and SBS On Demand




June Andrews Award for Women’s Leadership in Media

Joanna Lester is a journalist and filmmaker who focuses on the social impact of sport. She worked for the BBC, ABC, SBS and Fairfax before moving to Papua New Guinea in 2014. There, she decided to document the story of the country’s pioneering female rugby league players who, through their participation in PNG’s male-dominated national sport, were challenging attitudes about women against a backdrop of widespread gender-based violence. Her debut documentary, “Power Meri” (Powerful Women), is screening on TV and in cinemas, communities and schools around the world, and being used to drive discussion about the treatment and status of women.

Madeleine Hetherton is an experienced director and producer. She works across a wide range of documentary and top rating factual programs. Her filmmaking has taken her around the world from diamond diving in Africa to wildlife trafficking in Burma and through the remote Australian outback. Recent work includes directing the feature documentary “The Surgery Ship” and later as Series Producer/Creator for “The Surgery Ship” (eight one-hour episodes) series for National Geographic Channel. Most recently she co-produced “Debi Marshall Investigates: Frozen Lies” — a five x one-hour True Crime series for FOXTEL.

Rebecca Barry is a director and producer and is co-founder of Media Stockade. Her work includes the documentary film “I am a Girl” (nominated for four AACTA awards) and producing the critical and ratings success “The Surgery Ship” (SBS), which evolved into an eight-part series with National Geographic. She was also the producer of the controversial film “The Opposition”, which screened at Hot Docs, IDFA, Sydney Film Festival and was opening night film at HRAFF. More recently, “China Love” (ABC) has been enjoying a life on the festival circuit (DOCNYC and GZDOC) and true crime series “Frozen Lies” recently screened on Foxtel.

Read an interview with Joanna.

Judges’ comments:

“Power Meri is a powerful depiction of PNG’s first female rugby league team, who overcome discrimination and social media scorn to finally win the respect of their nation,” the June Andrews Awards judges said.

“Given the dominance of negative stories about PNG’s crime and violence rates, it’s a refreshing account of the power of women to challenge and change attitudes, in politics and sport. The filmmakers clearly worked hard to build trust and gained exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the players. The film has had significant national and global impact.”

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