NEWS

Manus Doco Hits London Film Festival, But The Director Likely Won't Make It

Behrouz Boochani wants a visa to see his film entered.

04/09/2017 2:31 PM AEST | Updated 04/09/2017 2:31 PM AEST

An asylum seeker and film director being held on Manus Island is appealing to the British Government to give him a visa so he can attend the London International Film Festival, where his work on life inside Australia's detention regime is being played to an international audience.

Journalist Behrouz Boochani has written to the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Australia, Menna Rawlings, asking for a visa for October 8th and 9th after his film, "Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time," was accepted into 61st London International Film Festival.

The film -- shot on a smart phone and co-produced by Netherlands-based film maker Arash Kamali Sarvestani -- captures the tedium and anxiety of life in the detention centre.

"This is a great honour for any director and I would like to attend the festival screenings," Boochani wrote in the letter, posted on his Facebook Page.

"My movie was also selected to be shown in the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year, where it had its world premiere, but the Australian Government did not allow me to attend.

"I am asking you to give me a visa to attend the London Film Festival."

The letter was also addressed to London mayor Sadiq Khan and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC.

Boochani has been on Manus, an Island province in Papua New Guinea Manus, for more than four years.

He used Whatsapp to send low-quality shots to Sarvestani in The Netherlands.

"Some of the shots I put my phone on the chair and asked some of the guys that they protect me, let me know if the guards are coming. Sometimes I put the phone in a hat," he said earlier this year.

Australia is closing down its asylum seeker detention centre on Manus after the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

The U.N. warned of an escalating crisis on Manus Island after a refugee died earlier this month.

"The UNHCR is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young refugee yesterday, which also highlights the precarious situation for vulnerable people on Manus Island," the agency said in early August.

Meanwhile up to 100 people who were formerly housed on Manus Island and on Nauru but transported to Australia for medical treatment were informed their welfare payments would cease earlier this month, leaving them just three weeks to find private accommodation of their own.

Last week the Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, rejected an attack from immigration minister Peter Dutton labelling lawyers and law firms providing pro bono legal assistance to asylum seekers as 'un-Australian'.

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