Hot Docs 2016 Review: ‘Chasing Asylum’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2016, Movies by - May 03, 2016
Hot Docs 2016 Review: ‘Chasing Asylum’

Chasing Asylum

Made in Australia

A staggering, inhumane injustice has been taking place off the coast of Australia, and hidden cameras and crises of conscience bring them to light Chasing Asylum.

This illuminating and disturbing documentary from Eva Orner dissects Australia’s exceedingly strict refugee policy, displaying the real life horrific consequences that the country has manifested. Under the pretense of wanting to protect refugees and curtailing them from venturing to the country by boat, the Australian government does not allow a single refugee to settle in the country.

Instead, men, women, and children are sent to detention camps on one of two islands, where stimulation is minimal, filth is rampant, physical and sexual abuse lingers, and their stay is endless.

It’s instantly and always a startling, despicable watch, as hidden cameras brought into the facilities, paired with interviews from misled social workers and volunteers detail the horrors that go on at camps where humans rights have disappeared, as has human decency.

They talk of refugees inflicting pain; they cut themselves, sew shut their lips, and commit suicide. Little children roam about; there are reports of women being raped; and no one is told anything about what is to become of their future.

This 90-minute film is draining, mentally and emotionally exhausting, so much so that the last half hour seems to drag, especially when it seeks to make a connection to the refugee crisis in Europe, and how some of those countries response. Chasing Asylum in those moments seems to make things little too convenient, it doesn’t need to draw obvious parallels, or reinforce how misguided and abusive the Australian government’s policies are. Regardless, the criminal neglect unearthed makes the film unflinching, and utterly convincing.

Chasing Asylum plays once more at Hot Docs 2016:

Sun, May 8 9:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 14

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.