To its backers, Woomera detention centre played a so-called “humane yet crucial role in housing the growing numbers of ‘boat people’ landing on Australia’s shores.” To its critics, this prison, as a heavily guarded cluster of buildings ringed by red desert and razor wire, represented the “dead-heart of asylum-seeker policy” and Australia’s lacklustre regard for human rights. Woomera opened for business less than four years ago. Built for 400 people, it soon housed more than 1,400. It became notorious for riots, protests and breakouts by desperate detainees. There were reports that mental illness and self-harm were rife and as the reports mounted, TV cameras captured the protests at the perimeter fence. Certain press warned of detainees’ declining health and morale. Yet when Woomera was quietly placed in mothballs last month, its full story remained to be told…
Chasing Asylum explores the human, political, financial and moral consequences of the Australian Government’s “off-shore processing” immigration policy, which is the only country in the world to mandate indefinite detention for adults and children seeking asylum. Since this policy was restarted in 2001, it has grown into an internationally condemned, secretive regime. Inside the detention centres there have been violent deaths, suicides, horrific acts of self-harm, sexual abuse, and mass protests. Composed of footage secretly recorded inside Australia’s offshore detention camps, and explored through the eye-witness accounts of social workers and support workers, Chasing Asylum presents the hidden offshore world, where governments choose detention over compassion, a system of depriving vulnerable people of their basic human rights, and spending huge amounts of money keeping it secret and out of the public eye. The result is a sobering overall picture of a system that asks its citizens to abide by rule of law, but shows little regard to do so itself.
In Australia takes a candid look at the highs and lows of Australian society, circa 1976. The film ties together the workings of media manipulation in its early days, along with the removal of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General coup d’état—Kerr’s Cur—to demonstrate the common apathetic side of popular culture in the ‘lucky country.’ The film also touches on the subtlety of remnant class structures remaining from English heritage by revealing the workings of the ‘Occa’—a prudish stereotype of the common person portrayed and exploited by mainstream media, revealing views on immigration and racism in a country, ironically, colonised by immigrants.
On 11th March 2011, a huge tsunami, triggered by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, hits Japan. It cripples the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing radiation, and turning the residents of Futaba into nuclear refugees. The devastation experienced by the town—dead livestock, crops abandoned, homes destroyed—was infinitely worse than anything reported by the newspapers. A year later, many refugees are still unable to return to homes that will be contaminated for many hundreds of years. The irony of this disaster occurring in a nation that experienced two nuclear bombs is not lost on the victims who poignantly question their responsibility for striking a Faustian bargain with nuclear power. Nuclear Nation examines the tragedy of Fukushima, and also whether it could one day be replicated on a grand scale.
Payback Time recounts the experiences of Ramin Bakhtiarvandi as an asylum Seeker in Australia’s Detention Centres from June 2000. After his release from a 4 year long detention, Ramin receives a $227,000 bill from the government. Payback Time raises serious questions about the conduct of the Australian Government to this day when dealing with asylum seekers, as well as revealing the harsh realities of a racist culture and complicit mainstream media.
The Great White Hoax contextualises the current day politicking in the United States, with a primary focus on Donald Trump’s race-baiting 2016 campaign for president. The film also widens scope however to show how Trump’s charged rhetoric fits into a long-standing historical pattern in politics in the United States, offering a stunning survey of how racism and racial scapegoating have shaped American politics for centuries. The film becomes a solid resource for a basis on race relations, white privilege, the intersectionality of race, class, and gender identities, presidential politics, and political propaganda in the age of “social media.”
To Know Us Is To Love Us covers the public reaction to a Vietnamese refugee camp constructed outside Fort Smith in Arkansas, 1975—not long after the end of the Vietnam war. The film documents the stories of the refugees coming to the United States, along with the reactions of American troops, the public and citizens who take in Vietnamese refugees to assimilate them into American life.