"Journey Beyond Fear, an excellent documentary from Robyn Hughan, is a genuinely moving experience. Apart from the strength and courage of the family members, which is self evident, the patience of the filmmaker is commendable. This is a journey well worth taking"….4/5 Stars

David Stratton, Film Review, Weekend Australian

"An INCREDIBLY MOVING and BEAUTIFUL film telling a very important story and the narrative is very lyrical. 


Whatever side of the immigration debate you sit on you’d have to have a heart of solid granite not to be MOVED by Robyn Hughan’s REMARKABLE, HUMANISTIC CHRONICLE of a refugee family in LIMBO as it waits for Australia to process its paper work.”


“Highlights the SOUL-DESTROYING wait for those in the so-called official queue for re-settlement. It’s a tale of two cities, three sisters, 18 YEARS IN EXILE and shines a light on the little known plight of refugees LIVING IN LIMBO in South East Asia”


“Journey Beyond Fear is an important film which shows us that people have an enormous capacity for LOVE, DETERMINATION and SACRIFICE and that above all, REFUGEES ARE PEOPLE. More than anything this is a film about the DEPTHS of HUMAN FRAGILITY and the RESILIENCE of the HUMAN SPIRIT.” 5 Bergs out of 5.


“ARTISTIC and ATTRACTIVE. The film is full of JOY, LOVE, FEAR, HAPPINESS, LIGHT and very well shown HUMOUR.”


“Journey Beyond Fear is a CONFRONTING yet UPLIFTING film that will leave you THINKING - and FEELING - long after you leave the theatre. 5/5


“With the current dialogue around detention centres, asylum seekers and refugees in general, Journey Beyond Fear is a THOUGHT-PROVOKING piece that EVERYONE NEEDS TO SEE. If you are already concerned with the plight of refugees to Australia, this film will only validate those concerns. And if you’re not, maybe, just maybe you will be by the end of this movie.”


" IMMEDITATELY one could see this film has been LOVINGLY MADE, with a DEEP PASSION and commitment to the subject. The gentle style and direction is so refreshing. And the visuals are strong and speak volumes about their situation.

The meaning of the title quickly becomes clear and is entirely appropriate – about the risk to escape by sea because they’d rather take the risk and die than live a miserable life of poverty and uncertainty.

IT’S AN EXTRAORDINARY PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDY of the effects of refugee status – an important document which will enlighten Australians about their plight. That even if you don’t “jump the queue”, it’s still a living hell. The exploitation of stateless people and their children in places like Malaysia is made abundantly clear – the long hours of unpaid work and the threat of being jailed. The long wait – 5 years - going through the UN and Australian Embassy is such a blight on the system of processing refugees for resettlement. But is also balanced with good people they meet and hope.

The characters are all very likeable and the children are great - so articulate. Their role in the film has the potential to break down barriers. They are so forgiving of their abuse they’ve endured, despite it taking a toll.

The amazing journey of being refugees for 18 years and how only 1% are resettled – is information most people don’t understand or know about.

The music in the opening 'Someone’s daughter' and throughout is a great choice and will help an audience to see refugee characters through different eyes.



Film Victoria

"The film is a very beautiful story and I was moved by the characters – girl’s tears, laughs, smiles and interviews that you successfully recorded with trust by long term filming. The opening of the film is very nice to show the sad situation of refugees. The music in the first few minutes take us into the story.

An adorable girl growing up to a beautiful lady – all the viewers can share her happiness when she finally arrives at Australia!   

I really respect you and your crews long term filming.  Being beside her and her family must have given them power to live. I’m sure broadcasting it in Australia will be a great success and make people aware of the problems of refugees. Thank you for the beautiful story."...


"How many Afghan families have we met? Probably never in Afghanistan itself! But what about in other countries? What about in Australia?

Documentary filmmaker, Robyn Hughan has had a long interest in the plight of refugees, especially to Australia. Her documentary, A Nun’s New Habit, stems from her contact with many refugees and the families, her going to Woomera and the exploration of life in detention centres, her contact with a Good Samaritan sister, Carmel Wauchope and her work with the detainees.

Journey Beyond Fear is a more ambitious project. Robyn Hughan, with cinematographer and co-producer, Steve Warne, have spent almost 7 years on this film. While it is a documentary, 99 minutes, it also plays as a humane narrative, inviting and drawing audiences into the life of this family, mother and father and three daughters.

There is no voice-over commentary. Rather, the film relies on the vitality of the personalities of the family, Bismilla and Fatima, the parents, and the three daughters, Zahra, Zeinab and a little girl under ten.

With contemporary news footage, especially from the late 90s, Afghan television and Al Jazeera, the audience learns that the family are victims of a massacre in 1998. While there are violent scenes, there are also glimpses, challenging our responses, of the Taliban harshly beating women.

The family were able to move through Pakistan into Iran where they lived for the best part of 12 years, finding it difficult to settle, the children not being able to be educated, a hard life. This meant that they moved on to Malaysia where this film opens in 2011. It then tracks the family’s life in Malaysia for the next four years. It is hard for Australian audiences and audiences from more comfortable Western countries to appreciate what it is like for a family to be uprooted, to be unsettled, on the list with the United Nations for migration to another country but having to wait, year after year, for any news of progress.

The director had access to the family over these years and filmed them in all kinds of circumstances so that we can feel that we are part of the family - older audiences appreciating the pressures on the parents, younger audiences, especially teenage audiences, able to empathise with the girls, perhaps wondering how they might react in parallel circumstances.

In fact, the strong personality of the oldest daughter, Zahra, begins to dominate the story. At first, she is an enthusiastic girl, especially about the possibilities for education. She excels at a special school for Afghan refugees. However, her father earns his meagre keep with 18 hours a day of bread baking with the daughters on bicycles delivering to hard-won customers, which means that Zahra has to find work, sometimes in the stores at an affluent mall, even selling men’s underwear, but the proprietors of the stores cannot be held accountable and are reluctant to pay her properly.

As the years progress, she grows older, misses out on education, has passing jobs, she is seen as saying she has become tired of life. At one stage, she does contemplate going up onto the roof and jumping. It is sad to see how a vibrant young girl in her mid teens can become so depressed. Her younger sister keeps a calmer approach while the little sister, still under 10, loves to dance, is something of a roly-poly live wire in the family.

And all the time we are seeing the mother and father, he a genial man, having learnt some English, making the bread but regretting he does not have more time for his family, she a rather extroverted and exuberant woman who has a zest for life.

Because of the title, we know where the drama is leading. In fact, so powerful is the presentation of the years without hope and then the sudden emerging of the possibilities of getting visas and air tickets for Australia (which also have their brief but anguishing delays), we could feel that the film will end with the family arriving in Melbourne.

But, as the title suggests, the journey goes beyond fear and we have a need to see where the journey ends as well as where it leads to.

We see the refugees arriving, welcomed, meeting up with fellow refugees, assisted by locals. The big prospect is the girls actually going to school, getting their uniforms, the discussions whether the girls will wear the scarf or not (Zahra not wearing it, like her mother, but Zeinab opting to wear it). Actually, the film shows pretty well how comfortable life can be in Melbourne. Then there are glimpses almost a year on, then almost 2 years on, the girls and their achievement, the father getting a job, the mother learning English, the family saying that have no home now in Afghanistan. Australia is their home.

While there is some information at the end of the film about the plight of refugees and how few actually are settled, this is not a polemical film. Although it shows so many difficulties, the potential for despair, it is a humane look at a family, lively, colourful, hoping for a new life and actually finding it.

Audiences from countries hosting refugees often know about this from television news, Facebook entries, even perhaps newspapers, but they don’t always have direct contact. This film could serve as a kind of bridge towards involvement with refugees, their coming, their staying, their continuing lives."

Peter Malone, Film Critic, Australia