This animated short film won Best Short Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2015. The story is narrated by two men who were detained at Australia’s Manus Island Offshore Processing Centre. Both of them went to Australia seeking asylum. These men, along with thousands of others, embarked on dangerous journeys from their native lands in search of freedom.
In 2013, the Australian Government introduced an immigration policy that stirred up quite a bit of controversy. They began transferring all those refugees who were seeking asylum to offshore detention centers located on remote Pacific islands. As is to be expected, the mental and physical stress, the sense of loss, and the anger towards the injustice of it all causes detainees to protest. Two prisoners, Behrouz and Omar, recount their versions of the happenings that led to the riot of 2014.
Behrouz is an Iranian journalist who escaped his country seeking freedom from religious constraints. On his first attempt, he boarded a small fishing boat, but it sank and he ended up spending a few days on the open sea. Finally, he was arrested and put in a dirty prison in Indonesia from which he managed to escape through the roof.
He tried again to reach Australia and was again lost at sea for many days until a British ship found them. At that point, he was sent to Manus Island like a criminal and nobody was able to explain to him how long he would be detained.
Omar was also fleeing an oppressive government when he ended up on Manus Island. He says the locals were initially friendly and didn’t seem to mind their presence there. Out of desperation, many prisoners took their own lives because they felt that they had reached a dead end— if they were to go back to their countries, they would be killed and being detained indefinitely is a slow death.
In February 2014, the prisoners were told that they would never be allowed to enter Australia, Manus Island might not accept them as citizens, and no one would help them if they wanted to apply to another country.
This caused a peaceful protest that led to a series of unfortunate and unfair events. Who is responsible for the lives of innocent men whose only crime was to dream of a better life?