Filmmaker detained on Manus to miss premiere

8:37 am on 15 May 2017

The maker of a movie shot in secret on a cellphone by a refugee detained on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says his co-director has a right to be at the premiere.

An image from the movie, Chauka, please tell us the time.

An image from the movie, Chauka, please tell us the time. Photo: Arash Kamali Sarvestani

Chauka, please tell us the time screens for the first time at the Sydney Film Festival on 11 June.

Over several months the Kurdish journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani recorded footage at Australia's refugee detention centre before smuggling it to his co-director in the Netherlands.

Arash Kamali Sarvestani.

Arash Kamali Sarvestani. Photo: Arash Kamali Sarvestani

The Iranian dutch filmmaker, Arash Kamali Sarvestani, edited the 88 minute documentary together and will present it in Sydney, but he said Mr Boochani should be there too.

"You know as a film maker one of the best, one of the most nicest, strangest, greatest moment is when you share your movie with audience," said Mr Sarvestani.

"So I am going to sit beside audience and it would be a great, great, great moment, I'm so happy but I'm so sad as well because Behrouz can't have this experience," he said.

"And Behrouz really, really deserve to be in cinema and have all those great moments that all other film maker have."

The Sydney Film Festival's documentary programmer Jenny Neighbour said it was a shame both directors could not present their film.

She said filmmakers across the world were turning their lenses to the global refugee crisis.

"And I thought when I saw this film that it was a response from our own part of the world," said Ms Neighbour.

Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

"Even though it's made obviously with a Dutch filmaker and a Manus Island detainee this is very much what is happening in our part of the world and I thought it was very important to represent that too," she said.

"It is unfortunate that he can't be there with us but that's the point of the film is that he's telling his story so that in essence he is there. He wants the people of Sydney to see his story. So his story will be here even if he's not."

Behrouz Boochani.

Behrouz Boochani. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Mr Boochani has been detained by Australia on Manus Island for four years after fleeing persecution in Iran for contributing to a Kurdish magazine.

He is one of about 900 men interned on Manus for travelling by boat to Australia to seek asylum.

"This movie is not against Australian people. This movie is against discrimination and it is against racist thinking," said Mr Boochani.

"The refugees are real people same as you and they left their countries because of discrimination, because of war," he said.

"And your government is using them for its political aims and it is against human rights. We are trying to show Australia's real face and ask people to think deeply about the situation in here."

Mr Boochani said Chauka, please tell us the time is also about Manusian culture and how the people of Manus Island are Australia's victims as well.

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