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Nationwide search for Hazara teenager to debut on film

5 September 20160 comments

An Australian production company is passionate about bringing a story to the screen focusing on a 16-year-old refugee settling in Melbourne.

What is missing from the project is their lead actor, with the filmmakers embarking on a national campaign to cast the role of Nina.

A coming-of-age film with a twist, Nazaneen follows Nina living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne enjoying being a teenager until she is confronted with her mother’s plans of an arranged marriage.

Nazaneen_bodyWhen she meets a boy she is interested in, she decides to rebel against her mother’s wishes with traumatic repercussions.

This fictitious script was written in consultation with the Hazara community and cultural advisor and producer Farkhonda Akbar.

Co-written by Mira Robinson (Head On, Only The Brave) and directed by Australian Film Television and Radio (AFTRS) graduate Damian McLindon the team also includes producer Cathrine Burnett-Wake who has been a registered migration agent since 2003.

The film states its bold ambition to “challenge the general public’s perception of refugees and asylum seekers promoting harmony and tolerance of refugees and asylum seekers in our community”.

The production company, Shoot Films, has an interesting approach to funding the film, hoping to raise $100,000 to produce this 30 minute short film with benefits for donors such as obtaining a credit on the film and an opportunity to visit the film set to meet the cast and crew.

The cost of filmmaking raises the dilemma of whether funds would be better directed to improving the services and social participation opportunities for former refugees settling in Melbourne or mentoring refugees in the filmmaking process to actively produce their own stories.

With the goals of changing public opinion, this will only be successful if they are able to reach a wider audience they desperately want to access beyond the film festival circuit.

There is incredible value in funding a film with this subject matter however it would be more beneficial to support a feature film with the backing of Screen Australia to at least secure a national distribution.

It is a challenge in itself for Australian films to be supported in this country by its own citizens with viewers traditionally contributing more to the box office of mainstream Hollywood films rather than home grown independent productions.

With film industry politics aside and the complexity and responsibility of presenting films with refugee characters, the film does provide an exceptional opportunity for a talented young female to explore acting.

Although an unstable career path, it is a chance for underrepresented members of the community to be more prevalent on screen.

Nazaneen_body2The press release for the search advises the film is an authentic story however the casting information on their website stipulates they will accept a Middle Eastern actor.

Widening the net is probably due to concerns they may not find their talent within a minority group but surely there is an ethnically Hazara teenager in this country who will rise to the challenge.

If you know someone who may be interested in the role, forward these instructions here on how to create a video audition.

Sophia Sourris
AMES Australia Staff Writer