“If they knew I was making a movie, it would have definitely made trouble for me...”
Over a period of several months, journalist and Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani had access to a phone. In secret, he collaborated with Iranian-Dutch filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani on the outside to create a film which portrays what he describes 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 from that formative experience he sought to make this collaboration. Arash writes, “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 is also the name given to the prison’s solitary confinement unit. The film is less an explosive exposé, and more an aesthetically and rhythmically devastating “poem about the self-effacing monotony of indefinite detention” (The Saturday Paper).
Co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani will present and introduce each session of Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time. Friday and Saturday’s screenings will be followed by a Q&A.