It all started when…
Filmed over 7 years, this is a story of love as much as a tale of persecution. Zahra and her family are Muslim refugees searching for re-settlement. Her parents, both orphans in Afghanistan, fled to Iran to continue their forbidden love for each other where Zahra and her two sisters are born. Here, they suffer persecution and witness severe brutality towards Afghan refugees. The children are not permitted to attend school and the family is in constant fear of being deported to Afghanistan.
After 12 years, they escape to Malaysia where they register as UN refugees and await re- settlement. In Kuala Lumpur, Zahra has the opportunity to attend a community school where she learns English and becomes a teacher. However, at 14, she is forced to begin work seven days a week to provide for her family. She is exploited in the workplace and her employer threatens to report her to the immigration police when she demands her wages.
Severely traumatised, her hair falls out from stress as she loses hope of being re-settled to another country. Her dream of receiving an education and becoming a doctor is crushed, leading to a suicide attempt. Luckily this attempt is thwarted by her father, preventing her from jumping from the top of their apartment building, just in the nick of time!
And how fortunate not to have boarded the boat bound for Australia the night the smuggler came to their house, promising ‘a good boat’, which claimed the life of the entire family they were living with. Zahra remains visibly upset by the loss of this family whom she loved so much.
Finally, after seven years of uncertainty and desperation, Zahra’s family receives word that they are going to Australia as part of the UN re-settlement program. They are overwhelmed with happiness. In Australia, the family blossoms and Zahra’s dream of attending a proper school and subsequently receiving a scholarship to university becomes a reality.
Journey Beyond Fear is an emotional rollercoaster taking us from despair to joy through hope, humour and love. A character driven film, featuring three magnetic daughters, it focuses on the experience of those who join the queue as opposed to those who ‘jump the queue’, making it clear that this is no easy option. It shatters prevailing stereotypes and highlights that becoming part of Australian society without losing one’s cultural identity is achievable. Further to this, Journey Beyond Fear draws attention to the fact that only 1% of refugees registered with the UN are ever resettled.
The film has been made with deep passion and commitment to the subject matter, the narrative is lyrical and the visuals are strong, speaking volumes about the family’s situation. The music for the film is written and performed by Alyce Platt whose recent sold-out Melbourne Cabaret Festival show received rave reviews. Her original songs are suitably heartfelt, providing a strong backdrop which emotionally resonates throughout.