Powerful rugby league film Power Meri to be screened in England

Drew Darbyshire

A new women’s rugby league documentary film will premiere in London on Monday, April 8, following rave reviews at international film festivals and preview screenings.

Power Meri (Powerful Women) follows the journey of Papua New Guinea’s first national women’s rugby league team from inception to the world stage, and explores the broader social impact of sport on women’s empowerment, community attitudes, and national identity against the backdrop of a country often described as one of the toughest places in the world to be a woman.

Fresh from selection at international film festivals in Australia, the USA and Tahiti, Power Meri is hitting UK cinemas on limited release. The film’s director Joanna Lester, a London-born sports journalist, moved to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2014 and embarked on the film two years later.  

“Living in PNG and hearing the inspiring stories of female rugby league players, who were changing attitudes about women in their communities through playing the country’s male-dominated national sport, I always thought their voices deserved to be heard on a wider scale,” Lester said.

 “When it was confirmed that PNG would form a national women’s team, the Orchids, to participate in the world cup for the first time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to document that journey and share the story with national and international audiences.

“Since we released the film in Australia and PNG, the response has been overwhelming. The story of the Orchids seems to have truly inspired people within and outside of sport. As a filmmaker, it’s a privilege to be able to share a raw and real story from behind the scenes of women’s sport in a country that is rarely portrayed on the big screen.

“I hope the story of this extraordinary group of women, who have put their hands up to be part of something ground-breaking, despite criticism and barriers, will inspire audiences everywhere.”

Power Meri premieres in London on Monday 8 April at Odeon Covent Garden and will screen at selected cinemas across England, including Warrington, Manchester and Huddersfield. Tickets are only available online at: uk.demand.film/power-meri/