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‘Aliko and Ambai’: In loving memory of Lilly Samuel, 1990-2017

Lilly Samuel
Lilly Samuel - "I recall the first time I met you.... You gave me a bright smile"


CANBERRA - If you haven’t already watched the film, ‘Aliko and Ambai’, I strongly suggest you do.

It was first screened in November last year, produced by the Centre for Social and Creative Media at the University of Goroka as the product of a PACMAS innovation grant.

It is a true Papua New Guinean film and it has everyday PNG in it: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

You’ll appreciate the beautiful footage of our country and realise how easy it is to make friends there.

You’ll see images of contemporary PNG.

The drunkards singing until daybreak (so disturbing, no respect for neighbours).

The husband who assaults (‘quite normal, it’s a family problem’).

The young girls who don’t do well in school (‘what a waste of school fees’).

The teenagers experimenting with drugs and alcohol (‘what’s wrong with them, can’t they see they’re ruining their lives?’).

Aliko and Ambai’ explores these themes and much more. And, if you watch it again, you’ll find it also has solutions. It’s a film about courage, friendship and the pursuit of happiness.

I watch this film regularly for personal reasons. My dear friend Lilly Samuel was in that film. She worked as the production accountant and as a secondary actor.

Lilly passed away late last year.

Like so many young Papua New Guinean women, Lilly was a single mother. She was a good worker too. One of those ‘behind-the-scenes’ people who are always there - on set, in the office, checking on payments, following up orders, catering, running errands…. Just always available and ready to help. And always cheerful, always smiling.

Filming on location
Filming on location for ‘Aliko and Ambai’

The film is in loving memory of her, for in ‘Aliko and Ambai’ a bit of Lilly Samuel is immortalised. This is my tribute to her.

Ambai Special

Remember the times we’d walk down the UoG campus hill
and ‘x’ which houses we liked
Or the one time I attempted to drive Martin’s car up the hill
it jerked a bit and you said, ‘Come on Terri!’

Or remember that time
after they put new big IMac monitors in the edit suite
we’d go in when no one was around and take crazy selfies
Of course, we’d save it all on our memory sticks
before deleting everything.

Countless trips to the market, town runs, bank runs
coffee break stories
Why do I have to remember these times, Lilly?

I recall the first time I met you at Raun Raun theatre
You gave me a bright smile
Since then you’ve always treated me special
You always gave me a hug when I arrived in the morning
and multiple times throughout the day
You were good like that, good at showing love.

You called me ‘Doctor’ even before I started this PhD journey
The plans we used to make for post-PhD
I will not execute, not without you
‘cause they were our plans.

27 years
What is that?
Death stole you
I’m mad at Life for not keeping you safe
It was not your time
Rest in peace, my Lilly

Theresa, who worked briefly on ‘Aliko and Ambai’ as producer's assistant before moving to Canberra for studies will represent the film when it screens in Canberra for the first time next month


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Philip Kai Morre

Lilly, you are gone to eternal life but memories live on, I didn't meet Lilly personally or see the film but I am one of those advocates for women and a fighter for social justice and violence against women.

I have two daughters, one is studying at the University of Goroka and another doing Grade 11. I don't think too much of my sons but my daughters are always on my mind and in the same way I find it hard to comprehend Lilly's death.

Kelly Zachary

What a terrible loss for all of PNG and especially her family.

Since I lived in PNG for 10 years I am always interested in "all things PNG" in the news. Thus, seeing a woman not only being able to excel in her career but also have such hopes for the future success saddens all who love PNG.

As her family copes with her loss there are questions, like why did did this have to happen to Lilly? In short here are two beautiful scriptures that start to answer these questions. Revelation 21:3,4 "God...will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain."

And please be assured that God is not the cause of her death or any of the problems we face. James 1:13 says "When under trail let no one say: "I am being tried by God." For with evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try (or cause trials, problems) anyone."

Mark Eby

Thank you Theresa for remembering Lilly. Beautifully written.

Alessandra Mel

Quite often we seem to lose touch and contact with friends, wantoks and colleagues. But with Lilly she always made time to let you know she was always thinking of you.

Aliko & Ambai has hit the nation (PNG) and we find ourselves reminded of our contemporary reality. I am glad to have been part of the CSCM team along with Aliko & Ambai cast and crew, who had the honor of being a friend, colleague and sister to the beautiful soul Lilly Samuel.

Rest in Eternal Peace Lilly.

Joys Eggins

I watched Aliko and Ambai during its Port Moresby launch and broke down in tears when a scene with Lilly came on.

I watched that film for the first time after leaving CSCM, a centre close to my heart for the labour of love that went into creating it.

Lilly also brought to the CSCM a labour of love with a Lilly flair - an ever ready hand and a warm smile no matter the day.

Aliko and Ambai was a project to the donors, but it was a life-time for those who put the project together on the ground, Lilly's included.

A true PNG film dedicated to a true PNG woman. People will watch for the elements of watching any film, I will watch for the deeper connection to a wonderful spirit that was Lilly.

Ambai Special through and through.

Rest in eternal peace.

Dominica Are

I met Lilly at Massy Village when I was living there. She was such a wonderful person and very easy to talk to. We met again at Pacific Gardens where Aliko & Ambai was shooting one of its scenes.
So sorry to hear about her loss and a beautiful tribute for a beautiful soul.

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