Published on Webdiary - Founded and Inspired by Margo Kingston (/cms)

Hope and loss - a sad Iraqi connection

By Marilyn Shepherd
Created 04/06/2008 - 02:33

Marilyn Shepherd is a longtime Webdiary contributor who is also a nationally significant advocate for the rights of refugees in Australia.

As a preface, here's the blurb for the film Hope from the Melbourne Film Festival's website [1]:

Four hundred asylum seekers pitched into the sea when their people-smuggling boat from Indonesia sank in 2001. Three hundred and fifty three people drowned. Only seven survivors made it to Australia. Amal Basry was one of those survivors.

Controversy surrounded the sinking of the boat, known as SIEV X (Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel Unknown). In public, Amal became an advocate for the survivors. In private, she fought to reunite her fragmented family, cope with the consequences of the disaster and return to Indonesia. But Amal was no victim. She loved movies and had always dreamed of being in a film of her own. Documentary maker Steve Thomas wanted to record her life story. So they made a deal. And having embarked on this journey, Thomas had no choice but to follow on.

I want to advertise this film here because Margo Kingston supported the SIEVX story from day one and allowed Tony, Mary, Marg, Helen, Kay and myself to use the site for the story.

This story is impossibly sad - Amal died of breast cancer in Australia after surviving Saddam Hussein, the water, Indonesia for months and years of anxiety.

She did not survive Australia.


From: Steve Thomas.

Dear Hope Friends and Supporters,

We are pleased to announce that Hope begins its national cinema release on 19th June. This is great news for everyone who has waited patiently for the film to be released to a general audience and among those who can share the credit is Gil Scrine of Gil Scrine Films, our Australian distributor, and the Nova Cinema in Carlton which was the first to offer a season. Once the Nova came on board, cinemas elsewhere began to sit up and take notice. Then the Australian Film Commission came in with some financial support for publicity materials, censorship classification the (rating is M), preparation of hard drives for digital projection etc, so we are grateful to them too.

In preparation for the release we have done some more editing on the film. It is now running at around 100 minutes and if the response of secondary teachers at a well attended preview screening at the Nova last weekend is any indication, it is even better!

This is a commercial release and most of the cinemas involved to date have agreed to 2-week minimum seasons, although the Luna Perth has only committed to 1 week and the Canberra Dendy seems only able to offer a one-off screening. The season at any of the cinemas can be boosted by interested groups holding fundraising screenings - these are one-off screenings at off-peak times whereby the host group is responsible for selling tickets and then shares the returns with the cinema and the distributor.

Details of the cinema release, links to the cinemas involved and contact details for anyone interested in fund-raising screenings are attached as a word document and are also included at the end of this update. These details are also on the Hope website at www.hopedocumentary.com.au - where you will be able to click on the links to relevant cinemas and go straight to their websites for screening times etc.

A 2-sided colour flyer prepared by Gil Scrine Films is also available by email as a pdf document on request.

Needless to say, we are thrilled with this development in the journey of Hope through the world and we know that were she here, Amal would be too. But it's an opportunity that we need all of you to get behind and support. It is particularly important that screenings during the first week of release are well attended. This will encourage the cinemas to keep the film on in good-sized theatres and keep their advertising going. So please forward this email to anyone you can think of and, for example, consider ways in which you might be able to organise small groups to attend. Cinemas continually complain that no-one goes to see Australian films - let's prove them wrong with Hope!

Note: For those of you who expressed interest after our last newsletter in supporting regional screenings through Gil Scrine's Community Screening Initiative, which would be driven by philanthropy, please note that this initiative is on hold while we get through the 'commercial' cinema release phase. Regional screens are already expressing interest in either commercial or community hosted screenings, so we hope to announce further developments in this regard in due course.

Hope Australian Cinema Screenings

Hope will be screening at the following cinemas around Australia for a limited season from the 19th June 2008, to coincide with World Refugee Day, which is on 20th June.

Please check websites for session times and special previews!

Sydney: Dendy Newtown [2] King St, Newtown
Brisbane: Dendy George [3] George St, Brisbane
Melbourne: Nova Carlton [4] Lygon St, Carlton
Hobart : State Theatre [5] 375 Elizabeth St, North Hobart
Adelaide: Nova East End [6] 251 Rundle St
Canberra: Dendy [7]148 Bunda St, Canberra Centre
Perth: Luna [8]155 Oxford Street, Leederville

Sydney: Avoca Beach Theatre [9] 69 Avoca Dve, Avoca Beach

There will be additional regional screenings announced soon, please check your local cinema listings for details!

If you are part of a Refugee support group and want to host a fundraiser screening of HOPE in your area - please get in touch with distributor, Gil Scrine Films: 44 Northcote St, East Brisbane Qld 4169, Ph: (617) 33910124 Fax: (617) 33910154

Hope to screen at UNHCR Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo, 26th June.

We are pleased that Hope has been invited to screen as part of this year's annual International Refugee Film Festival organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and to take place at various venues across Tokyo. See here [10]for more details. As Steve Thomas will be returning from a short trip to the UK at that time he will take the opportunity to be in attendance, at the UN's invitation, to introduce the screening (it will be interesting to see Amal's story sub-titled in Japanese!)

Thanks again to everyone for your continuing support and interest in Hope. This is truly a community effort.

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