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No Turning Back
Community, Human Rights, Refugees, Social Justice
No Turning Back shows how Australian mothers, grandmothers, daughters and friends are stepping into their power by caring for refugees and people seeking asylum in the community – a perspective that has been under-represented until now. Through stories of compassion, kindness and courage we find a common ground, one of inspiration, hope, meaning and ultimately the motivation for women to demonstrate their true power.<p></p><p></p>No Turning Back is first and foremost a women’s empowerment film seen through the lens of the refugee and asylum seeker context in Australia. It is women who hold the key to a fundamental shift in the management of our social contracts and social problems at all levels - from domestic to international relations. <p></p><p></p>Women must exercise their natural endowments and knowledge beyond patriarchal authority in order for these problems to be addressed anew and solved effectively. <p></p><p></p>As Professor Valerie Hudson, the inaugural Fulbright Distinguished Chair at the Australian National University said recently: “Women comprise approximately half the population in every country, but have very little decision-making authority in the realms of foreign policy and national security. That means that women’s concerns, priorities, knowledge and perspectives will not inform some of the most important government policy made, which will undermine its effectiveness.” [Hudson cited in SMH, 2016] <p></p><p></p>While male politicians, institutional authorities and policy-makers are permitted to continue to run social and national agendas and make decisions based on second-guessing electoral opinion, we will continue to struggle to overcome the massive problems facing us in today’s world. Valerie Hudson asserts, “Women weave the web of life in most societies for young and old. When you cripple the weavers you cripple the nation and its future.”<p></p><p></p>No Turning Back shows just why and how this is true, and why the film’s subjects are determined not to be stopped from changing the status quo. They provide evidence that will inspire others to understand and follow their example. It is no less than an incipient revolutionary movement that can change our political and social arena. <p></p><p></p>Thought provoking and challenging No Turning Back is a national story told through three microcosms - Brisbane, Western Sydney, and Victoria – a diversified space with the aim of revealing our commonality, our inter-relatedness with society, and how this tension is played out. Without exception this film demonstrates a very different narrative that is create when women come together as a show of strength, acting on their own strategies, and using the power of compassion to change the world. These women prove that even though borders may put certain limits on our identity, they cannot define the limits of our humanity.<p></p>
Requiem for Cambodia
Arts, Community, History, Human Rights, Refugees, Rural, Social Justice
In October 2017 a world tour of a new stage production will premiere in Australia, Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, a unique fusion of music, voice, movement and projected images commemorating the 2 million Cambodians who died at the hands of the Communist driven Khmer Rouge regime while celebrating the renaissance of an artistic life that has all but disappeared. The Requiem has been commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts a not-for-profit organization. CLA’s vision is to revive their lost arts & bring international attention to a world still besieged by conflict that the arts can be a powerful tool for healing and play a role in rebuilding war torn societies.Over one year, this documentary charts the staging of the Requiem interweaving heart-wrenching accounts of survival of those involved.The Requiem’s principal creators are childhood survivors, world renowned filmmaker Rithy Panh, and Cambodia’s premier composer, Him Sophy. They are collaborating for the first time to bring their traumatic shared history to a world audience.Most Cambodians are Buddhists who believe that the dead will not rest in peace or be reborn without proper religious rituals. The Requiem’s libretto is based on Bangsokol the Khmer Buddhist ritual for the dead. The music is a combination of traditional Khmer instruments and vocalists and Western chamber music and chorus. Projected on a screen is a triptych of images from Rithy Panh’s earlier films, archival footage and new footage presenting a visual history of Cambodia’s recent past illuminating the meaning of the musical work.This stage production is huge for impoverished Cambodia. The loss of most of Cambodia’s artists and intellectuals left a cultural wasteland taking generations to reverse. Realising they couldn’t do it alone CLA called on international performing arts professionals to help. New York based theatre & events specialist, Rachel Chanoff, is producer. Australian Gideon Obarzanek, a world-renowned director & choreographer, is Director of Staging and Trent Walker an American scholar with years of experience studying Asian Buddhist texts, ritual and music has written the libretto.Phloeun Prim, the charismatic Executive Director of CLA, himself a child survivor, is responsible for finding the funds. Over 3 years he travelled the world appealing to arts organisations, philanthropists and governments to become partners.With no suitable theatre or experienced western-style musicians in Cambodia, the production needed somewhere to rehearse and the Government of Taiwan helped by providing a theatre and Philharmonic Orchestra in Taipei for their first full rehearsal …and we were there to shoot it. The film will follow their stories through preproduction leading up to the Melbourne premiere performance before it tours to New York, Boston, Abu Dhabi, Paris and eventually Cambodia.
Arts, Community, Human Rights, Refugees, Social Justice
Two musicians seeking asylum in Australia encounter the Scattered People, a small band of kindred spirits who play music and create songs with asylum seekers and refugees as they discover their new identities. But will they find refuge in a country of sharply divided attitudes? Our film is in late production stage and we are seeking completion funds. We need assistance now for final filming, editing, finalising and distribution of the film. Scattered People is a documentary about the transformational and healing power of music, bringing together people, cultures and countries while exploring the multiple levels at which music has a positive therapeutic impact. With the help of musicians including Missy Higgins, John Butler, Michael Franti, Archie Roach and more, we also explore how music can help unite, heal and restore our compassion for some of the most vulnerable people on our planet. A little girl in Iran listens with her father secretly playing illegal western music. Pink Floyd is a favourite but if they are discovered, it would be dangerous and potentially life threatening. Now a young woman in Australia, Saha’s voice is heard singing Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away as part of the Scattered People’s third album, Sugarmill Road, produced by GANGgajang’s Robbie James. A fusion of eastern and western influences, each of the songs has been brought to life with passion and dedication, evident when Robbie shares his creative process on camera. Following a chance observation of Chileans playing guitar with Iranians, Sri Lankans, Afghans and others gently swaying in the background, Brian Procopis a Community Development Practitioner is allowed to bring music into immigration detention facility BITA (Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation) and the seeds of the Scattered People’s third album are born. Saha and Mas are young, they have dreams, they love music and all they want is the freedom to live a safe life. We recall the separate historical journeys of two asylum seekers from Iran, in detention and community centres, meeting the Scattered People band and through to professional recording studios where high quality music gives voice to the voiceless. We discover how music breaks down barriers, gives them purpose, shapes their identities and builds an inclusive community culture. Saha and Mas are welcomed into a new life in a new country through the healing power of music yet at the same time still live in a suffocating limbo on temporary protection visas. Featuring personal insights and research from a host of prominent Australian musicians (Katie Noonan, Dan Sultan, Vince Jones, Harry James Angus, Mark Callaghan, Ash Grunwald, Eric Bogle, Gyan), artists (Tom Keneally), specialist lawyers, academics, social commentators (Hugh Mackay) and veterans of the immigration and advocacy field, this documentary also explores Australia’s polarised attitudes toward people seeking asylum and refugees.