This film picks up where our 2018 film Stop the Boats left off with Behrouz Boochani. As Behrouz awaits determination of his own asylum bid, the film chronicles his days until he can finally leave the island to his new place of resettlement, however long that may take. A visual diary of his life in limbo, a deeply personal telling of his lived experience seeking asylum; and the psychology of exile. Behrouz voices his trials and frustrations, his thoughts and inner dialogue as he interrogates how the detention changed him. He narrates the story of his flight, his years in detention, the trauma of exile and isolation and the struggle for freedom until the day he is free. Once Behrouz is granted asylum, the film will follow him to his new country, as he navigates his new found freedom and comes to terms with his new life as a free man.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist fleeing the Iranian regime, arrived in Christmas Island by boat from Indonesia on 21 July 2013; just three days after then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that people arriving here by boats would no longer be settled here. Transferred to Manus Island detention centre, Behrouz is now in his sixth year of detention. Renowned for his reporting and writings from detention, Behrouz brought to international notice the horrific reality of life for detainees. Amidst the chaos and psychological and physical torture of prison life where over a 1000 men fought to survive, Behrouz used his writing to cope with the horror of exile. He was the voice of the detainees, speaking to the world with uncommon courage about their plight. Even as he remains on Manus, fighting to be free, his book ‘No Friend but the Mountains’ has won several major prizes including Australia's most valuable literary award, the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
To raise awareness about Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policy and the tragic impact of government action on the lives of people seeking asylum on our shores; and through this to influence community action for change.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
If social impact is about giving communities a real view of the effect of their actions on people, to rethink the reasoning behind their support for those actions and the policies that entrench it, to reframe the discourse and change the course of policy and community perspectives, then this film offers a rare opportunity to create awareness and understanding on the displacement of peoples and the lived experience of seeking asylum. This film seeks to confront, challenge and engage the public, and use a deeply personal experience, to create a real understanding of the tragic and irreparable impact of their views and the actions of the governments they support, on people seeking asylum on Australian shores. To then influence a change in how we treat those that seek refuge on our shores.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
This film has a community outreach and engagement mission at its heart. It hopes to challenge national and global conversations that have moved far from all notions of asylum seeking and humanity. We hope that through Behrouz’s personal story and the insights into his lived experience, people understand the real impact of Australia’s inhumane national policy on the lives of thousands who come here seeking refuge. Through partnerships with NGOs, community and grassroots organisations, universities, schools and other public institutions we hope to use the public screenings of this film and the discussions that follow as a platform to raise awareness and understanding about the global displacement of peoples and people seeking asylum.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
When people who have viewed the film ask the question what can we do to change this policy and support asylum seekers in our communities better?
When film generates debate and influences how the community in turn drive and lobby national policy through their vote and collective engagement with their legislators.
And most importantly, when we see the networks of people created through the screenings actively support and include people seeking asylum and refugees who have been settled in their communities.