Today I attended the world premier today of Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time at the Sydney Film Festival.   It is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen.   As an Australian I feel ashamed, complicit and appalled.

Iranian-Kurdish journalist detainee, Behrouz Boochani and an Iranian-Dutch filmmaker, Arash Kamali Sarvestani, made this film with footage shot on a mobile phone.

It is a unique record of daily life on Manus Island detention centre.   The chauka bird, local to only Manus Island, is heard at regular times in the day in the morning and is on the local flag.   This important symbol for locals is the name given by Australians to the solitary confinement area where guards torment those incarcerated.  The choice of  the name Chauka  harks back to a colonial disregard for the local people.  This colonial disdain hit me very early in the film and was mentioned by Behrouz Bocchani in the Q and A.

Time is such an important theme of the film.  While the chauka bird is a symbol of time, time is erased for those detained, the sense of the boredom of long days with little activity is very strong while at the same time phone calls to family are limited to 2 minutes and we see the hopelessness of trying to maintain a relationship with loved ones from whom the asylum seekers have been separated for over 3 years.  Over all there is the indefinite nature of the detention.


I recommend that all who can see Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, it is on again at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday 15 June at 8pm at Events Cinema George St.

Watch the trailer:  Chauka Please Tell Us the Time
Behrouz Boochani’s articles have been published in The Saturday Paper and The Guardian.

An island of Manus Behrouz Boochani 6 May 2017

Faysal Ishak Ahmed’s life was full of pain. Australia had a duty to protect him
Behrouz Boochani 30 December 2016

The day my friend Hamid Kehazaei died Behrouz Boochani 28 November 2016

It’s hard for me to leave Manus Island without justice: Behrouz Boochani on the US refugee deal
Behrouz Boochani 13 November 2016

What It’s Like In Solitary Confinement On Manus Island Behrouz Boochani 23 August 2016

Malcolm Turnbull, why didn’t you answer my question on Q&A about Manus Island?
Behrouz Boochani 21 June 2016

Damned Lies, News Corp, and Manus Island Refugees by Behrouz Boochani 28 May 2016


Great report from Aljazeera on Chauka

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