Don’t miss powerful film
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 vimeo.com/287224555
Proud: Filmmaker Robyn Hughan (centre) with Zahra (left) and friend (right).