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Manus, the secretly filmed documentary

Source: Supplied by Angus McDonald

Manus, is a 13 minute film, which shines on the plight of hundreds of asylum seekers held captive by the Australian Government on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for the past several years.

Manus is a 13 minute documentary produced and directed by Australian artist and filmmaker Angus McDonald. The film is based on footage which was shot by award winning Australian journalist Olivia Rousset when she travelled secretly to Manus Island with two other Australian refugee advocates at the end of 2017. The footage was filmed under the cover of darkness which includes interviews with men who have been locked up waiting for news that may never come — freedom. 

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Supreme Court ordered the Australian Federal Government shut the detention centre at Lombrum on Manus Island.

"That was a very important moment in the history of this most recent chapter in Australia’s offshore processing policy because this was a tough time when the PNG Supreme Court ordered the federal government shut the detention centre at Lombrum on Manus Island, they found it unconstitutional.”

McDonald told SBS Kurdish it was an appropriate time for the Federal government to bring the 650 men who had been on Manus for four and a half years, to Australia.

"But they didn’t do that, instead they ordered to move them to three new centres and as a result hundreds of men refused to leave which resulted in a standoff that lasted 24 days," McDonald said.

“The men on Manus took this moment in time to demand their freedom after four and half years of detention and this standoff continued until police under the orders of the Australian Federal Government forcibly moved them to the new centres. It was during this period of standoff Olivia and two others secretly travelled there for one night and film testimonial for men.”

Telling a story that hasn’t been told from behind impenetrable fences in Australia’s immigration detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, is not an easy task.

McDonald said the biggest challenge making the documentary was creating a narrative by using just various bits of dialogue from the men - and only including their words and pictures.

“I want to, I guess to create an underlying narrative about their situation in various small excerpts of the things they said on film, I think that was the hardest thing to try tie up together and make it coherent, I think we did it," McDonald said.

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