Asy­lum seeker finds a friend

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

Mary Meets Mo­ham­mad

WHILE the asy­lum seek­ers de­bate is cen­tral in fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign­ing, a new doc­u­men­tary shot in Tas­ma­nia high­lights a story that de­fies stereo­types. When Pontville De­ten­tion Cen­tre opened in 2011, a lo­cal knit­ting group be­gan mak­ing bean­ies for the de­tainees. One knit­ter was Mary, a Chris­tian who was hos­tile to­wards the cen­tre. She viewed asy­lum seek­ers as a ‘‘pack of cow­ards who had aban­doned their home­land’’. How­ever, cu­rios­ity com­pelled Mary to visit Pontville and see whether the ru­mours of asy­lum seek­ers ‘‘liv­ing in a lap of lux­ury while we strug­gle to sur­vive on a pen­sion’’ were cor­rect. Her opin­ion dra­mat­i­cally changed af­ter hear­ing first hand from some de­tainees and how they came to seek asy­lum. She soon formed a close bond with Mo­ham­mad, an Afghani Mus­lim. The doc­u­men­tary Mary Meets Mo­ham­mad tells the story of a strong friend­ship that changed them both. The film re­veals the con­nec­tion formed be­tween them, from dif­fer­ent worlds and dif­fer­ent re­li­gions. It doc­u­ments Mo­ham­mad’s tran­si­tion from Hazara asy­lum seeker to Ho­bart res­i­dent and the help he got from the once-scep­ti­cal Mary. The 83-minute film, by first-time film­maker Heather Kirk­patrick, was filmed over 15 months. ‘‘When I first started I saw a lot of op­po­si­tion in the Brighton com­mu­nity,’’ she says. ‘‘Then I met Mary, an amaz­ing woman with strong opin­ions.’’ Kirk­patrick was not al­lowed to film in­side the de­ten­tion cen­tre but filmed Mary and Mo­ham­mad when he was granted asy­lum.

The doc­u­men­tary Mary Meets Mo­ham­mad screens at Cine­max Kingscliff.

A scene from ac­claimed Aus­tralian doc­u­men­tary

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