As the South Sudanese community in the western suburbs of Melbourne faces a media storm with reports of gang violence, their elders decried as incompetent, young South Sudanese leader and filmmaker Ez Eldin Deng has a plan. Armed with a camera and teamed up with collaborator and documentary filmmaker, Hollie Fifer, this film will challenge the stereotypes and reveal a version of his community not often heard or seen in mainstream media.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
Feature documentaries have proven to be one of the most effective levers for social impact within our society. This is why we are using documentary to address one of the most pressing issues in 2018 - the representation and politicisation of the South Sudanese community. Currently the narrative of the South Sudanese community, one of the most over-policed communities in Australia, is being told from the perspectives of the media outlets and politicians. Meanwhile Ez and Hollie are after the real story, over 85 minutes they will change the narrative for all Australians. Following the film, Between Us will continue with an impact campaign which will translate the research, learning and narratives in the film into tangible social change directly addressing this racial vilification issue.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
We hope to achieve a widespread awareness of the issue, cause and machinations of racial vilification and highlight the dire impacts these strategies have on communities and individuals.
Once awareness is raised, through this film and the subsequent discussions and social impact campaign, we hope to reduce the ability for this kind of racism to flourish. By exposing the tactics employed to whip up moral panic, while simultaneously exposing the lies upon which these stories are built, we can bring awareness to the wider Australian community and work to nullify the potency of this kind of racism.
We can measure the impact of this film and its outreach campaign by gauging the media reaction and reporting, the police’s activities, and politicians’ statements and policies.
We will also be able to monitor the ongoing experiences of the South Sudanese community members themselves.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
By working closely with the Shark Island Institute on this social impact feature documentary, we can hone our strategy to ensure maximum impact and social change.
For example, some community-based, individually led strategies may include:
• Attend a day-long BBQ/creative day with some of the characters in the film and their communities in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
• Use the hashtag #Melbournebitesback (or similar) with photos that contradict the media and political messages being espoused.
• Send personal letters to culpable media outlets that uses vilification tactics and ask them to release their evidence for the article/TV spot, etc.
• Tell your local MP that vilification of your neighbours is not how to win your vote.
• Host a screening of the documentary film within your suburb and invite the characters along as guests
These actions can be offered as a way to assist the South Sudanese community in combatting the racism they face. By the film’s offering of an insight into the community, and from their own perspective, through co-director’s Ez’s lens, the wider Australian audience can effectively engage and take ownership and responsibility for working together on this divisive problem.
Working alongside an educational push (through media, society & culture, geography and history units) we can ensure young people can be engaged as agents for change. There are many examples of creative activism coming from the South Sudanese community itself (poetry, hip hop, dance, performance, theatre) that will be revealed in the film, that the engagement of a broader youth audience is achievable.