Don’t miss pow­er­ful film

Benalla Ensign - - News -

Film­maker Robyn Hughes, who grew up in Be­nalla, has pro­duced a pow­er­ful doc­u­men­tary cap­tur­ing the plight of a Malaysi­abased Afghan fam­ily await­ing re­set­tle­ment to Aus­tralia via the UN.

The film, which pre­mieres in Mel­bourne this month, will be shown dur­ing the Be­nalla Fes­ti­val on Novem­ber 8 at 7.30 pm at the Swan­pool Cinema.

Shot in­de­pen­dently over seven years, Jour­ney Beyond Fear takes place in Kuala Lumpur where an Afghan refugee fam­ily lives in a ghetto com­mu­nity on the city fringes.

The touch­ing and heart­felt nar­ra­tive cen­tres on teenage daugh­ter Zahra, who is forced to give up her dream of an ed­u­ca­tion to earn an in­come for her fam­ily.

She is sub­se­quently de­nied her earn­ings by her em­ployer, who threat­ens to re­port her to im­mi­gra­tion po­lice.

With re­lat­able unity, love and sup­port for each other, the fam­ily cling to hope, but the in­def­i­nite wait and the fear of be­ing de­ported takes a vi­cious toll, cul­mi­nat­ing in Zahra’s sui­cide at­tempt.

The doc­u­men­tary is Ms Hughes first fea­ture-length film, which is based on a fam­ily she met when she was liv­ing in Malaysia.

‘‘I was drawn to one fam­ily in par­tic­u­lar, and even­tu­ally over the years, I re­alised that the mag­netic ap­peal of this fam­ily was so strong that they be­came my main sto­ry­line,’’ Ms Hughes said.

‘‘To this end, I made many self-funded trips to con­tinue doc­u­ment­ing the fam­ily in Kuala Lumpur.

‘‘At times this was very tax­ing, both fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally. I was of­ten film­ing on my own, stay­ing with the fam­ily and sleep­ing on the floor with them, which gave me in­cred­i­ble ac­cess to their world.’’

‘‘I had no idea what the fi­nal out­come would be for my favoured fam­ily, but even­tu­ally, they ar­rived in Mel­bourne un­der the UN pro­gram in 2014.

‘‘I con­tin­ued to film with the fam­ily here in Aus­tralia, and to date, they are thriv­ing in the Mel­bourne com­mu­nity.’’

● You can view a trailer of the film on­line at

Proud: Film­maker Robyn Hughan (cen­tre) with Zahra (left) and friend (right).

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