Raw, detailed and unashamedly single-minded, Chasing Asylum is a tearjerking look behind the scenes at Australian immigration. With 60 million people forcibly displaced by events across the globe, this documentary is timely and poignant, and a must-watch for everyone regardless of political stance.
For those who suggest we follow the Aussies’ policies as a blueprint for post-Brexit Britain, this film will prove eye-opening; but all will feel their gut twist as the reality behind their refugee detention centres comes to light. This doc smartly acknowledges the reasoning behind the new systems Australia has implemented, while damning the consequences of a policy of deterrence. Don’t expect to hear much from the other side though – while clips quoting former and current government ministers are shown, all declined to be interviewed.
This film comes to us from Eva Orner, whose prior work covering the war in Afghanistan has drawn critical acclaim – including picking up the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2008, alongside Alex Gibney, for Taxi to the Dark Side.
While most of the shocking revelations come through anonymous talking heads and onscreen statements, secret camera footage from within the detention centres draws out the stagnation and lonely stillness that the inhabitants of these islands must feel. The interviews themselves are heartbreaking, as refugees, camp inhabitants, and their families all share how Australia’s recent policy shifts have affected their legal search for asylum. Whistleblowers who worked at the camps also offer their stories of the abuse and corruption they saw within the centres – and what motivated them to speak up against this broken system.
Shocking and challenging, Chasing Asylum is not an easy watch – nor should it be. Hopefully this film will get the wide release it deserves, and prove a catalyst for change to a shameful system.
DIRECTOR: Eva Orner
SYNOPSIS: Chasing Asylum tells the story of Australia’s cruel, inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, examining the human, political, financial and moral impact of current and previous policy.