Movies, documentaries and TV provide the chance to visualise the individual and collective journeys of people from all corners of the world in their pursuit of a safe place to live.
The Merger (2018) M
Bodgy Creek is a struggling town. The drought won’t let up, jobs are scarce after the mill was shut down, and the footy team looks like it will have to merge with another club or fold. Living a hermit-like existence on the town’s fringe, a former football is coaxed into rescuing the team after striking up an unlikely friendship. Teaming up with a nearby refugee support centre, they unite to recruit the new arrivals to save the team and take the community on a journey of change.
Limbo (2020) M
Limbo is a funny and poignant cross-cultural satire that subtly sews together the hardship and hope of the refugee experience. Omar is a promising young musician. Separated from his Syrian family, he is stuck on a remote Scottish island awaiting the fate of his asylum request, and wanders the epic landscape searching for answers to a complex past and unknown future. He may be stuck, but he is not alone. Omar and his new flatmates attend hilariously misjudged ‘cultural awareness’ classes. They binge the Friends boxset, debating whether Ross and Rachel were on a break. And Freddie Mercury-obsessed Farhad tries to convince Omar to participate in the local open mic night. Limbo deploys pitch perfect wit and crisp observation to shine a light on the hearts and lives of those at the centre of a crisis that most of us only experience through headlines.
Flee (2021) M
Flee uncovers a remarkable true story. Amin Nawabi is an Afghan refugee who grapples with a painful secret he has kept hidden for 20 years, which now threatens to derail the life he has built for himself and his soon to be husband. Revealing his story for the first time to director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, his close friend and high-school classmate, Amin recounts the extraordinary journey he undertook as a child refugee from Afghanistan to Denmark. Made with a striking blend of animation, intimate interviews between Jonas and Amin, ‘80s music and archive footage, FLEE details an unforgettable story of self-discovery and relentless will to survive.
The Swimmers (2022) MA 15+
In the heat of a swimming competition, with families cheering on teenage athletes in a complex adorned with Syrian flags, the roof of the building explodes as bombs fall from the sky. One lands in the pool, sinking slowly and threatening to detonate as a panicked swimmer tries to get out of the water. That swimmer is Yusra Mardini, and the film tells the true story of her and her sister’s journey to escape the war engulfing their country to pursue Yusra’s dream of making it to the Olympics. The Swimmers is a biographical drama that both illuminates the refugee experience and shows a young athlete’s determination to succeed against all odds.
The Staging Post (2017)
The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. This documentary also has a free Study Guide to download. You can even connect directly with filmmaker Jolyon, star Muzafar, or the school itself in Cisarua! This documentary also has a free Study Guide to download.
Currently streaming free on EnhanceTV.com.
On the picturesque coast of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, beyond the sandy beach and palm trees, almost a thousand asylum seekers are kept behind wire fences by armed guards. We’re used to hearing about Manus and reports of what goes on inside the detention facilities. We’re less familiar with seeing them with our own eyes. Shot entirely on a mobile phone by detainee Behrouz Boochani, we are given a glimpse life in offshore detention.
For Sama (2019) MA 15+
Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards. This multi-award-winning documentary is a love letter from a young mother to her daughter. It tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, while conflict escalates around her.
Freedom Stories (2015)
This documentary looks at the achievements and struggles of former 'boat people' who are now Australian citizens. The group arrived seeking asylum from the Middle-East around 2001 – a watershed year in Australian politics, Some were only children when they found themselves in indefinite mandatory detention in remote places such as Woomera or Nauru and then placed on temporary protection visas,
Human Flow (2017)
Filmmaker Ai Weiwei examines the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Over the course of one year in 23 countries, Weiwei follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretch across the globe, including Afghanistan, France, Greece, Germany and Iraq.
Chasing Asylum (2016)
Eva Orner explores the impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and features never before seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention camps. Revealing the mental, physical and fiscal consequences, it explores reveals personal experiences of the lives the system affects.
Lovren: My Life As A Refugee (2017)
Dejan Lovren tells the harrowing story of how his family were forced to flee the Bosnian War
Cast From The Storm (2016)
Teenagers fleeing war and persecution come together in a life-changing theatre program.
Cast from the Storm is an award winning Australian documentary that tells a tender story of transformation, acceptance and belonging. Asfar, Maryam and Wiam face the usual challenges of navigating high school – with one difference. They were forced to leave their home countries and everything they knew behind. Now in Australia, they must start not only a new school, in a new country – but also a new life.
They join Treehouse Theatre, an after-school theatre group, which gives them the chance to share their extraordinary experiences. A coming of age story, this uplifting documentary shares the reality of what it means to be a teenager and a displaced person. This is the story of what comes after, and what it means to remake your home.
Stop the Boats (2018)
Stop the Boats tells the story of how Australia used a three word slogan to send people seeking safety to indefinite offshore detention on Manus Island and Nauru. The story is told by people seeking asylum including children from within detention centres, secretly filmed in Nauru and Manus.
The film features among others Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, children detained in Nauru. Dr Munjed al Muderis, Julian Burnside QC, Ben Doherty, Phil Glendenning, Dr Ai-Lene Chan, Dr Peter Young, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Andrew Willkie MP and the late Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.
Hope Road (2017)
A refugee from the Sudanese civil war, Zacharia (one of the ‘lost boys’ of Sudan) lives in Sydney, Australia, with his partner and daughter. He desperately wants to do something for his village, now in the newly created nation of South Sudan. His dream is to build a much-needed school, and he enlists the backing of numerous well-intentioned Australians. Janet, a dedicated supporter, joins him on a 40-day charity walk from the Queensland border to Sydney to raise funds for this venture. Will this strategy raise the funds they need? Thwarted by escalating conflict back in South Sudan, and shocked by a broken relationship, Zac must decide what’s important in his life.
Watan means Homeland. The film features a series of interwoven portraits of Syrians eking out lives in the major refugee camps and cities of Jordan. Their struggle shows the human face of the refugee crisis, the first steps beyond their escape from imminent danger. The stories from the camps reveal a very real struggle for normalcy and dignity in a situation that is anything but. Watan seeks to inspire action through connection, empathy and recognition, in a way that allows these people to speak for themselves. It shines a much-needed light on the human stories at the centre of the global debate of immigration and asylum, giving a voice to the Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Amal Basry watched Titanic at a cinema in Baghdad the night before she fled Iraq. Eighteen months later she was on a people-smuggling boat which sank between Indonesia and Australia. Amal was one of the few survivors. She now fights to ensure that the disaster is not forgotten, to reunite her family and “to find what it was I lost in the ocean”.
The Missing (2019) – NBC Left Field
NBC’s Left Field program teamed up with ICRC and documentary film maker Matthew Cassel to share the stories of 5 missing migrants in 5 different countries.
The Promised Land (2019) – Foreign Correspondent
This edition of Foreign Correspondent covers the stories of Imran and Amir, two refugees who were once detained on Manus Island and now living in the United States and Canada respectively. Correspondent Eric Tlozek first met Amir and Imran on Manus Island. He follows them from behind the wire to their new lives in North America in the most intimate and detailed account so far of life for Manus refugees.
Aweng Chuol (2021) - ABC
Aweng Chuol has graced catwalks around the world, but she was scouted as she served fast food in Western Sydney. She chats to Courtney Act about her early life in Africa; becoming aware of racism; the intersection between sexuality, culture and gender; and representing Australia.