Freedom Stories won’t be on for much longer and its season has already been extended at Cinema Nova. It’s a documentary that follows a number of Australians who arrived during 2001 as asylum-seekers and, under the policies in force at the time, spent time in detention centres before being released under Temporary Protection Visas.
It was strange to see suburban settings juxtaposed against the images that the government didn’t want us to see of Baxter and Curtin detention centres. It gives these people back their names, instead of the numbers they were dehumanized by. The film-maker’s (Steve Thomas) presence is quite obvious, with each separate story starting with a computer screen-shot and a running sheet.
The documentary starts with a customer collecting his car from the mechanic after having it serviced. “What do you know about Mustafa?” asks the film-maker. “Oh, he comes from- was it Afghanistan, Mustafa? That’s about it really…”
I found myself looking a little more closely at the people on the footpath as I walked back from Parkville to the city. They were from so many countries and cultures: each of them with a story. The participants in this documentary are good new citizens, working hard, optimistic. What on earth are we doing to people with our refugee policies?