After 25 years, moves are afoot to re-open the Rio Tinto-owned Panguna copper mine and PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill is due to make a much-postponed visit to the autonomous region next week.
Jemima Garrett has been getting a sneak preview of Clive Porabou's new doco 'After the War'.
Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speaker: Bougainville film-maker, Clive Porabou
SFX Traditional singing, theme song of 'After the War'
PORABOU: (narrating film) Bougainville Island is one of the provinces of Papau New Guinea. In late November 1988 Bougainvilleans took up arms to stop the mining company which had been destroying their land and environment with little in return.
GARRETT: Clive Porabou's latest film 'Bougainville after the War' is due out soon and Clive is in Australia putting the finishing touches on it.
PORABOU: (narration cont'd) Bougainvilleans want their island to become an independent island nation. The war ended in late 1997 and many windows opened for Bougainvilleans.
SFX traditional music
GARRETT: This is Clive Porabou's third film made for an international audience and his tenth in all.
Many of Clive's previous film's have been about the impact of mining but with this film he wanted to look at all positive developments on the Island since the war ended.
He says agriculture is providing a good living for thousands of Bougainvilleans.
PORABOU: Bougainville is a big plantation, like cocoa and copra.
GARRETT: Agriculture is a big employer but the film focusses more on successful small business and flourishing social entrepeurship.
PORABOU: (Film narration) Clytus and his wife Merry started domcom Genisis school .
PORABOU: Clytus is from outside Arawa, further up near mountains yes, and he started his own Tok Ples or language school, which when you see the need during the height of the war, so he started that school and now he has got many branches around central Bougainville.
GARRETT: So what does a Tok Ples school do exactly?
PORABOU: They taught the kids their mother tongue, which we tend to forget now, because we are jumping into high school, primary school and learning English or something. So he taught them basic culture and their tradition, yeah.
GARRETT: In the film Clive Parabou visits eco-tourism and fish-farming businesses, and a centre for disabled people.
Bougainvillean-run trade stores, are also performing well.
PORABOU: The small businesses like store, trade store, they had no idea of starting that thing. Before the war it was all taken by foreigners so now they have the chance of running that and yeah, they told me that if any big foreign company came in they are afraid because they are running on small capital.
PORABOU: Clive Porabou says his people have a better life now than they ever have and they don't need mining.
He was 19 years old when the Panguna copper mine closed.
His memories of the mine's impact are still fresh.
PORABOU: There were very few Bougainvilleans working in the mine. In fact, I try to get the job, but I didn't, yeah. And squatters, the Papua New Guineans they squatter on our land just outside Arawa. They killing, and rape, pack rape our sisters, mothers on their way back and forth. So that is what, you know, we see as a bad thing to us. Yeah! It was a side effect of the mine.
GARRETT: Did that sort of rape or violence happen to any of your close friends or family?
PORABOU: Yes, yes, because our village is just outside Arawa, where we call section 16 and just up from there there is a big squatter settlement so yes. Yes.
GARRETT: Bougainville is due to hold a referendum in independence between 2015 and 2020.
President John Momis believes the only way his people will have a real choice is if Bougainville can prove it is economically sustainable.
He and many others are supporting the push to re-open the mine.
Four-way talks between the The PNG government, the Bougainville government, the Rio-Tinto subsidiary Bougainville copper and landowners are underway.
Clive Porobou believes there are other options.
PORABOU: Leaders are talking about only mining. They should, you know, look for other avenues. there are talented people on the ground. the leaders should arrange something with other partners, Australia or whatever.
GARRETT: Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, will make a trip to Bougainville next week. After talks in the capital of Buka he plans to visit Central and Southern Bougainville and the Panguna mine site.
If the visit goes ahead it will be an historic occaission.