Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
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Asylum seeker films highlight global issue

19 July 20160 comments

With poignant timing, Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) has programmed a series of feature films from July 28 – August 14 focusing on asylum seekers as the largest numbers recorded in history continue to rise.

The outstanding leader in this collection is Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning Sonita, about a 14-year-old Afghan girl who dreams of becoming a superstar rapper. Her music focuses on themes of misogyny and oppression as she was almost sold as a child bride by her family at aged 10. But when her estranged mother resurfaces, the threat looms once again until the film’s director steps in to literally buy Sonita more time with unexpected and life-changing outcomes.

1 MIFF - Sonita

Still from Sonita

Those Who Jump is also a remarkable study as documentarians hand over the camera to their subject, Abou Bakar Sidibé in order to depict his own experience living outside Morocco’s Spanish enclave of Melilla.

Disintegration on the mental state experienced by families is transparent in A Syrian Love Story. Time and tribulation over five years of filming come to fruition after their love blossoms in prison and upon release, Raghda and Amer start a family together. However when Raghda is incarcerated once again, her husband is left behind to raise their sons alone.

An uplifting work over the same period of time accounts the story of four African refugee women who collaborate with theatre director, Ros Horin in The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe. Documenting the creative process up until their acting debut at the Sydney Opera House, the film is directed by its original dramaturge with the women exuding charisma and courage as they overcome their trauma to grace the stage.

For renowned filmmakers analysing the conflict from a close distance, Wang Bing’s Ta’ang follows the ethnocultural minority in Myanmar over four days as they flee to Chinese borders. Fire at Sea looks at the perspective of residents in Sicily’s Lampedusa as refugees cross its shores in search of another home.

The MIFF program screens cinema from over 60 countries including fascinating documentaries from Afghanistan. A Flickering Truth captures the Taliban’s inability to enforce censorship on its own film history. The Land of the Enlightened follows the period when US forces prepare to leave Afghanistan combining re-enactments of local kids attempting to sell abandoned soviet mines to be self-sufficient.

From September – October, MIFF will also tour selected films in a travelling showcase across regional Victoria. Locations include Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo, Wangaratta, Mildura, Belgrave, Mansfield and Bairnsdale. Schedules to be published soon at with full details.

Sophia Sourris
AMES Australia Staff Writer