A Different Kind of Politics

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Okay so I have a long and meandering post about rom-coms coming soon, which I am still in the throes of researching.

BUT, given the current political situation in Australia (which is very anti-refugees) I thought it might be timely to plug a couple of films about refugee rights in Australia

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

This…. is actually directed by a dude. However, one of the co-creators is a woman (the inspiring Jessie Taylor) . And really, I am writing this blog to discuss inequality and at this point in time, asylum seekers (particularly those who come by boat) are getting a pretty raw deal in Australia.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea is thought provoking, heart-breaking and compelling. It’s an exploration of the reasons why someone would risk their lives to sail in a leaky boat to the shores of a country that does not want them. It highlights the fact that seeking asylum by boat is just as legal as seeking asylum by plane or on foot, and that by turning away or imprisoning refugees who survive the long and dangerous journey over the sea is, Australia is breaking several UN conventions.

The film follows several characters in limbo waiting in Indonesia for ‘processing’ (At the current rate of processing the wait could be 40 years or longer, many of them have already been there several years already), they are a people in-between, not legally recognised by the Indonesian government, not accepted by the Australian government, no income, rough, unsanitary, and cramped living situations, and traumatised from where they have just come from. And yet, they have hope, they somehow still cling to the idea that they might be the ones, they might get through, if only they take the right boat and pay the right people, they might get to the ‘lucky country’.

Mary Meets Mohammad

Directed by Heather Kirkpatrick, an ex-relief worker who has worked with refugees in many different countries. She was studying film-making in Australia and stumbled upon this story about the first refugee detention centre in Tasmania.

I haven’t actually seen this one yet but I am very keen to get my hands on a copy because it looks like a great watch and its been getting rave reviews.

It’s the story of a woman who is vehemently opposed to refugees in her community, and the encounter that leads her to change her mind. It looks fascinating.

See, it’s a pretty confusing topic for many, Asylum-seekers. Often people seem to treat it as if it is an immigration problem (and oh I could say so many things about the western world and our labyrinthine immigration policies but I’ll leave that to another post). However, as these films take care to remind us, and as many advocacy organisations point out, refugees are actually not immigrants. They didn’t come to Australia because they like the climate, they are desperate escapees, running from persecution, strife and outright violence in their own countries, they cannot return home, this is not a choice for them.

At it’s heart, the issue of Asylum Seekers is a human rights issue.

This is one of the reasons why films about refugee issues are so important, they give the debate a human face.

In Australia media are not allowed in the detention centres (in fact, not even Amnesty International are allowed into the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island) and so completed films and documentaries about asylum seekers are few and far between, and often a battle to get made. These are the two most comprehensive films that I could find about the subject.

If anyone has any others they would like to suggest, feel free to share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading.
Peace Out.

 

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