Asylum seeker finds a friend
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