A powerful documentary shot by a former Benalla woman will screen in Shepparton and Euroa next month in conjunction with Harmony Day.
Robyn Hughan said she filmed Journey Beyond Fear independently over seven years, capturing the plight of a Malaysia-based family who was awaiting resettlement to Australia via a UN program.
The film 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 education dream to earn an income for her family.
She is subsequently denied her earnings by her employer, who threatens to report her to immigration police.
Ms Hughan, a first-time feature director, said she first visited Afghan refugees living on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in 2011.
‘‘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. To this end, I made many self-funded trips to continue documenting the family in Kuala Lumpur,’’ she said.
‘‘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.’’
Ms Hughan said although there was a happy ending for Zahra and her family, less than one per cent of refugees registered with the UN were ever resettled.
Journey Beyond Fear focuses on the plight of those who join the queue, shattering prevailing stereotypes around asylum-seekers and queue-jumpers.
Ms Hughan will be joined by fellow filmmaker Steve Warne for a question-and-answer session following the documentary screenings this month where entry will be free, thanks to Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE.
The film will screen from 7pm at the Euroa Community Cinema on March 13 and from 7pm at Shepparton GOTAFE on March 14. To register, visit www.trybooking.com