(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