Freedom Stories: what I’ve learned from filming Australia’s asylum seekers

By Steve Thomas, Lecturer in Film and Television (Documentary)

As an independent documentary maker, my journey through asylum seeker terrain began in 2002, when I was researching a documentary on the history of the township of Woomera. That research eventuated in Welcome To Woomera (2004), the first of what’s turned out to be a trilogy of films I’ve made touching on the situation and lives of asylum seekers in Australia.

From those films, and the years working on them, I’ve noticed certain patterns and gained first-hand insights.

My second film, Hope (2008), was a collaborative documentary about the life of the late Amal Basry, one of a handful of survivors of the SIEV X people-smuggling disaster of 2001, when 353 people drowned en route to Australia.

The third film – Freedom Stories (2015) – was completed in February this year and premiered at the Sydney Film Festival in June.

This article was first published on VCA & MCM Channel in 2015.