Asylum seekers knit into community

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 13-Sep-2013

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INSIDE STORY: Heather Kirkpatrick has made a film about the impact of asylum seekers.
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Tasmanian filmmaker Heather Kirkpatrick has produced a feature length documentary, Mary Meets Mohammad, following a story around the Pontville detention centre.
The film will be screening at Bendigo’s Star Cinema this weekend.
Heather said she was looking for a project and noticed an ABC news report on the hostile response from locals.
“Some people wanted to welcome them, but I was drawn to the opposite reactions,” she said.
“I started filming and following the event from there, and within a month the knitting club of Brighton came to the fore.
“Mary was very outspoken, but her relationship with Mohammed, a 26 year old Muslim, became better during the 18 months of filming.”
Her knitting club donates beanies to the asylum seekers in detention, and the club inspires a knitting revolution to begin inside the detention centre.
Heather said people may come away with different views.
“We see the effect of long-term detention through Mary’s eyes,” she said.
“I applied for access to Pontville, but was denied. But by speaking to visitors, and to Mohammed when he was released in to the community I was able to build up what it was like.”
The film runs to a feature length at 80 minutes and Heather said it needed to be that long.
“It’s a big subject, and it’s obviously important to Australians, and the whole asylum seeker policy is about to change following the election.
“Are we doing the right thing? It’s a question we have to ask.”
Mary Meets Mohammad will screen at Bendigo’s Star Cinema at 6pm on Saturday, September 14, 3.15pm on Sunday, September 15 and 6.30pm on Monday, September 16.  Tickets can be booked from the Star Cinema on 5446 2025. $15, concession $13, seniors and under 16 $10.                 - Steve Kendall

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