by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Asylum seekers on Manus Island have been given a fresh perspective, thanks to Melbourne-based Lukas Schrank.
The British-born filmmaker and animator talked about his film to human rights group, Right Now.
The film features two currently detained men on Manus Island and the audio is an original telephone conversation Schrank had with them.
The film is sombre and portrayed in a comic book style similar to propaganda comics distributed throughout Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Indonesia by the Australian government early last year.
The protagonists, under the pseudonyms Asad and Behman, fled from political persecution in Iran. Behnam had shared a room and was friends with Reza Berati, an asylum seeker killed in the Manus detention centre riots last year.
The riots play a pivotal role in the film.
“If you go to Australia without a visa on a boat, you won’t be settled in Australia,” the final page of the government-distributed comics read.
Indeed, the film was originally designed as a graphic novel in response to the refugee comics, which Schrank described as a perversion to the comic medium.
“Animation has the power to transcend many limitations of live-action when dealing with this kind of subject. If you re-contextualise a story, you essentially remove all of the audience’s preconceptions and prejudices.
“I hope that by engaging people visually, I’ll be able to tell a story which sidesteps their assumptions and retains a level of humanity that is often lost in the portrayal of asylum seekers,” he told Right Now in December last year.
Schrank has started a crowdfunding campaign, aiming to raise a minimum of AUD$3,000 which will go towards helping detainees with necessary supplies.
Whether the film is able to challenge people’s misconceptions about asylum seekers is Schrank’s signal of success.
The trailer for the movie can be viewed here.