CHAS­ING ASY­LUM

NOW Magazine - Hot Docs - - Reviews -

(Eva Orner, Aus­tralia). 96 min­utes. Rat­ing: NNNN Shot covertly with hid­den cam­eras, Chas­ing Asy­lum aims to blow the whis­tle on Aus­tralia’s shame­ful strat­egy for deal­ing with refugees: if you ap­proach the con­ti­nent by boat, you’ll be in­ter­cepted and sent to one of two de­ten­tion cen­tres in the is­land na­tion of Nauru or Manus Is­land in Pa­pua New Guinea – where peo­ple have been liv­ing in de­spair for months or even years.

Most of Eva Orner’s har­row­ing film sim­ply de­tails what’s been go­ing on in th­ese swel­ter­ing, filthy camps, where peo­ple who’ve fled war zones in Syria and Afghanistan wind up so de­mor­al­ized and bru­tal­ized that they scrawl “Kill Us” and “Guan­tanamo” on the walls. (It’s not a per­for­mance; they don’t know Orner’s film­ing them.)

The end­ing’s a bit jum­bled, with Orner cross­cut­ting be­tween sev­eral points in time and in­tro­duc­ing some Aus­tralian history that might have been more eas­ily di­gested ear­lier in the nar­ra­tive. But that doesn’t dull her point, or the im­por­tance of her film. NW Apr 28, 6:30 pm, TIFF 2; Apr 29, 3:45 pm, TIFF 3; May 8, 9:45 pm, Sco­tia­bank 14

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