“The issue is plain and simple. We did not come to Australia to live in a prison... The core concern is freedom… only freedom”
Over a period of several months, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani - detained on Manus Island for over four years - had access to a mobile phone on which he furtively shot footage from within the camp. Collaborating via email with Iranian-Dutch filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani the two created a film that portrays what Boochani has described as "the coarsening banality and repetition" of indefinite detention.
Inside the camp, the film reveals sobering first-hand accounts of harassment, belittlement and mistreatment. Beyond the camp's perimeter, it considers the legacy of the island's foreign occupations and the implications of that history for Manusians who question the role they have been recruited to play in Australian politics.
Co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani was a student of Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami and that formative experience influenced his collaboration with Boochani. Arash notes, “All this movie that I made came from Abbas Kiarostami's film workshop, the sea.”
Chauka refers to a bird unique to Manus Island, a symbol that Manusians regard with deep pride. In a cruel twist, it was also the name given to the prison’s solitary confinement unit. An aesthetically and rhythmically devastating “poem about the self-effacing monotony of indefinite detention” (The Saturday Paper), the film's message has become more urgent since the closure of the Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island and the deepening humanitarian crisis - and political impasse - that is unfolding in its wake.
This session will be introduced by Kieran Magee of the Refugee Action Collective with a discussion to follow the screening to be moderated by author and activist, Arnold Zable. We are hopeful that Behrouz Boochani will be able to participate via phone. In the event this won't be possible, co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani will join us via phone.