Film-maker on familiar turf as rugby league documentary gets a special screening in Leeds

She grew up in London and moved to Australia more than a decade ago, but Leeds has always had a special place in Joanna Lester's heart.

Monday, 15th April 2019, 14:42 pm
Updated Monday, 15th April 2019, 14:49 pm
A scene from Joanna Lester's documentary Power Meri.

And this Wednesday the journalist and film-maker will be back in the city for a screening of her acclaimed documentary, Power Meri.

It tells the story of Papua New Guinea's first national women's rugby league team, the PNG Orchids, during their preparations for the sport's 2017 World Cup in Australia.

Joanna Lester.

The Orchids' bid for success on the pitch is set against a compelling backdrop of prejudice, funding issues and the day-to-day headaches of life in Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby, often described as one of the toughest places in the world to be a woman.

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And Joanna, who began covering rugby league in the South Pacific nation in 2009, cannot wait to introduce cinema-goers in West Yorkshire to her film, which had its UK premiere in London earlier this month.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post ahead of the screening, she said: "I’ve had a lifelong connection to Leeds.

"Although I grew up in London, all my family is from Leeds and many school holidays were spent here.

"I also studied at Leeds University and cut my teeth as a journalist there on the student newspaper and radio station.

"My involvement in rugby league also stems from my Leeds roots, as it’s the sport I was brought up with.

"It’s a privilege to be able to return to Leeds, the birthplace of film and the city I can thank for my connection to rugby league, to release the film here.”

Wednesday's screening takes place at the Vue cinema in The Light and gets under way at 8pm, with tickets priced £8 or £7 for concessions.

It will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Joanna that is being hosted by Look North's Tanya Arnold.

The documentary is available for screenings on request in cinemas and community venues. For further details, visit