An Indonesian fishing boat abandons a group of Iraqi and Cambodian men on a remote part of the Western Australian coast. Told there is a bus over the dunes, the men are abandoned to a desert the size of Poland. While most are quickly rounded up, three men with little in common but their history of misfortune elude capture and begin an epic but confused journey drawn on by their hopes amplified by the empty desert. Pursued by an army reservist unit more concerned with playing ball sports and music, our three protagonists wander deeper into trouble, searching desperately among the harsh beauty of the Pilbara for evidence of a western, liberal democracy. Or the promised bus.Written by
When director and co-screenwriter Michael James Rowland began researching the Iraqi story-line for this film in 1999, he visited an overcrowded apartment in Fairfield, home of Fiark Hany, cousin of actor Don Hany ( who played Private Greg Plank), and five other Iraqi refugees all just released from detention centres. Fiark was an important contributor to the Iraqi narrative and one of his flatmates present on that first night, Assad Abdulrazak, went on to take on the role of Abbas in the film. His friend and fellow refugee Toma Isho also joined the cast as Firas. See more »
This film is a major leap forward from recent Aussie films, thankfully getting away from drug-raddled Western suburbs teenagers and quirky comedy clowns. The film-makers are willing to take on a big subject, a major global theme, that of displaced people and the extraordinary acts of quiet courage that so-called "boat people" are often required to perform simply to survive. It is very well directed, skillfully guiding an almost entirely unknown and inexperienced cast by not relying on too many long, challenging acting scenes but flick-passing from one story to the next in a way where the limited acting skills of the cast are best served. This is not a perfect film, it is too long at some points, and once in a while commits the cardinal sin of letting the audience get ahead of the film in knowing full well what will happen next. Another careful and unemotional edit, trimming eight to ten minutes of splashing in billabongs, tinkering with utes and trudging through scrub could only help. But these are minor quibbles in a film that achieves so much, that aims high and gets there. This and "Clubland" are without doubt the best two films so far in2007.
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