a review by the Crow.
[NOTE: As I was finishing writing this review, a strange thing happened. I haven’t let it affect the rest of the review, but I wanted to leave a note here so that the sudden shift in tone doesn’t surprise you. It’s to do with certain recent developments relating to Nowhere Line.]
VOICES FROM MANUS ISLAND
In July 2013, the Australian Government introduced a controversial immigration policy, transferring asylum seekers arriving by boat to remote offshore detention centres on foreign Pacific islands.
Seven months later, the Manus Island centre erupted in violence when police and guards put down protests with sticks, machetes and guns, and 23-year old asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed.
Up until this time last year, when things there started to change, and I started not being all that active on the website, I was a frequent contributor to Reddit’s /r/worldnews subreddit. Over the past few years, I honestly haven’t been there as often, but I used to try my best to make the “truth” of a story straight, or battle the misinformation which is assumed to be true (which so-often seeps into forums of this size. And there was even that one time when I quite loudly told around 75% of commenters on a post to go fuck themselves).
Of course, this isn’t something I did by myself; there are a great many Redditors who do a great job of making sure people who haven’t clicked through to articles and are falling sway to the spin in the discussion (going one way or another due to whatever reason, intentional or not), as of even today. These are people I like. They’re carrying on the good fight.
However, one thing I noticed was that stories about what goes on in these offshore detention facilities are never quite popular enough. I’ve myself posted a few during these events, and I’ve noticed many others do the same. This was before Reddit’s new voting system existed, and over 3000 was a rare and miraculously high score, granted; but the stories mostly wandered at well under a 100 – much lower than necessary to hit the front page, and upvoted too slowly to be noticeable. And it’s a rare kind of person who clicks the little link to go through to the next page of /r/worldnews.
Why do I say all this? You ask. Well, it’s not just Reddit. Even with all the coverage, and all the voices arguing this way and that about refugees (in general), the immigrants detained on these islands are amongst the least mentioned in the media. It just seems that news relating to them is simply not something that flies as well in the West (at the very least), and perhaps even in other places.
Now, of course this is my personal deduction and is not in any way backed up by any hard numbers or anything like that, but I dare say I feel it’s quite an accurate one.
With that out of the way…
I found out about Nowhere Line from that trove of short movies that the Azure-Winged Magpie found. So far, we’ve done two reviews (Power/Rangers and Lost Memories 2.0, as well as the original Lost Memories), and I knew Nowhere Line was going to be next. Since we’re having trouble completing our combined Shin Gojira review (probably have to break it up into parts), I thought, why not just watch Nowhere Line instead? And here we are.
Nowhere Line seems simple enough. It’s simply two men recounting stories over the telephone, their voices slightly altered – and in the backdrop, animated clips play out their stories. It’s literally two voices from Manus Island, speaking from Manus Island.
And what do these voices say?
WHAT THE VOICES SAY
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MODERATE SPOILERS
I don’t actually want to tell you what the contents of the phone calls are.
I want YOU (yes, you) to listen to them yourself. My telling you too much about their stories would affect the impact their words have. The events they talk about, they’ve lived through. I haven’t, and I’m not going to cheapen their experiences by attempting to recreate them.
However, I will mention that both men speak without much emotion in their voices until they mention the passing of friends. You can hear how drained they’ve become by their lives on Manus Island.
The first detainee we speak to is Behrouz, an Iranian journalist who fled his homeland. As an atheist and someone fond of democracy, it’s not hard to see why he fled, and he tells us of his journey to Australia – where he intends to find a safe haven. Thereafter, we hear from Omar, a much younger man, by the sound of it, who speaks more of life on the Island, and of certain incidents which happened as Australia continued to mismanage the situation and their periods of detention grew longer and longer.
Please, go and listen to their voices. Here’s the link to the short (available on Vimeo, and in other languages on 99.media):
VIEW: WATCH NOWHERE LINE: VOICES FROM MANUS ISLAND [15m 16s]
VISIT 99.MEDIA FOR VERSIONS OTHER LANGUAGES
Wow… is this ever a gorgeous looking short. When I tried out making my first animated short (never finished it, lost all my digital artwork two years ago and just don’t really do much since), this was what I’d have liked to end up with.
Nowhere Line‘s a gorgeous mix of 3-d animation, 2-d animation, and matte-paintings that’s skillfully woven together into one beautiful end product. I watched the short a third time just to see if I could fault a single frame. If there is one I’ve found fault with, I need to go to Specsavers again, because I can’t see it. The small handful of artists who’ve composed the backdrop for our two voices have done a spectacular job.
And nothing more can be ask in terms of sound design, whatever of it there is doesn’t interfere with the voices, and is minimalist. That little music at the end is pretty nice, too.
This is one masterfully put-together short.
Now, here’s the thing: I don’t want to talk about the content of the phone calls because I think people should hear Behrouz and Omar’s voices straight from them. And I’m very happy that the makers of the short share the sentiment.
It’s a solid short, and comes highly recommended by me.
Apologies for cutting of so suddenly like that, but something strange’s just happened. I’ll be sure to leave a note up at the top at the end so that people aren’t thrown off.
As I was finishing up this review, I decided to quickly Google Manus Island to see if there were any new developments I could speak about before going on to talk a little about how the detainees are cut off from the world at large, and things of that nature.
And to my surprise, what is it that I come across? Here are my search results:
Okay, now that might not seem very out of the ordinary, nor especially interesting. So let me show you a closer look at that first image you see in the ‘Top Stories’ section:
I was intrigued by that first link. I happen to be acquainted with a man who was once held in prison (a lovely man, just made some mistakes which snowballed on him) somewhere in Peru for an extended period of time up until some years ago. He’s told me many a story about his time there, and it sounds quite horrible (the conditions, the fighting, etc.).
He once (somehow) acquired a phone and recorded some clips of life inside the prison. While nothing came of it, a fact he’s quite sad about, I had to click that first link. And what I read, published just yesterday, is quite… the coincidence.
The “refugee” who’s shot this film? Behrouz Boochani. And yes, I don’t think there’s a doubt whatsoever that this is the same Behrouz whose voice I listened to, recorded over a phone call, in a short film I watched last night.
On the same day the article was published.
Now that’s quite the coincidence.
No, no, it doesn’t make me any less likely to reject the ridiculous premise of there being any sort of god or gods, but it’s a staggeringly huge alignment. After a little further digging, it so happens that Mr Boochani has continued to work as a journalist, and using a slow phone connection, has painstakingly sent Dutch-Iranian collaborator Arash Kamali Sarvestani.
Their film is titled: Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, and was completed on the 5th of November, 2016, according to Mr Boochani himself.
Here’s a little more on what the title means, courtesy of abc.net.au
The title refers to both a well-known Manus Island bird and the name of a notorious isolation compound within the Manus centre — a place dreaded by detainees.
Now, both the Azure-Winged Magpie and I have abandoned Facebook, but I’m going to reactivate my Facebook tonight. Let me tell you why I’m mentioning this.
It’s to do with how I know when the movie was completed. Mr Boochani announced so himself in a statement on Facebook.
Please, take a moment to consider clicking through to read Mr Boochani’s articles in the Guardian. To those of you on Facebook, please take a moment to consider supporting the upcoming movie Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time as well. I’ll surely be keeping an eye out for it.
As for Nowhere Line, the short film that I just started watching last night. It’s a beautifully made documentary short about some truly horrible things. Please take the time to give it a watch. I highly recommend it.
Edit: We’ve heard from Mr Boochani. Omar is currently healthy and is being kept at the Oscar compound on Manus Island.