Big Hair Woman
Effie (Mary Coustas) arrives at Port Moresby, capital of PNG
Not all of the news out of Papua New Guinea is bad ...
BIG HAIR WOMAN is a "docu-comedy" which gives the audience a slice or three of ordinary life in contemporary Papua New Guinea. It stars Australia's most famous Greek hairdresser, Effie, played by Mary Coustas ("Wogs Out Of Work", "Acropolis Now").
Effie discovers, sometimes the hard way, that there is more to PNG than bones and feathers. As Effie, the tourist from hell, is let loose in this wonderful land of contrasts, we, the audience, go with her. It is a journey of discovery that informs as it entertains.
As Effie stumbles from mini to major crisis, she nevertheless starts to warm to the people and the place. She is struck by the contrasts she sees; on the one hand, people still living in grass huts in traditional villages and on the other, a group of women "movers and shakers" in the capital, Port Moresby. As these women have their weekly, girls-only booze-up, they call on the men who control the government to start sharing some of the power around.
Girl in the crowd at the 20th anniversary of independence celebrations
Along the way, Effie travels with a police escort through dangerous "rascal" country in the highlands of PNG. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful but it doesn't seem to have any effect on Effie's paranoia. She also finds time to take a class at a local secondary school, get interviewed on the national radio, go to church, PNG style and sit in on the wonderful festivities celebrating PNG's 20th anniversary of independence. Here, she soon comes to the attention of Australia's ambassador in New York, Andrew Peacock, who also helped move PNG towards independence when he was Foreign Minister back in the early 70's. Such are the hazards of megastardom - she can't go anywhere without being noticed.
BIG HAIR WOMAN, as it informs and entertains, also has its share of suspense. Indeed, Effie's cultural incomprehension eventually catches up with her and she lands in some serious trouble. It all revolves around a pig ... and a touch of Effie style hysteria. Suddenly we are forced to ask - why did Effie go to Papua New Guinea? Why did she go to the worst possible place in the world for Big Hair? Will she ever be the same again?