Written by Muzafar Ali and Jolyon Hoff
Directed by Jolyon
A Light Sound Art
Screening at Dendy
Cinemas from June 16
Reviewed by Len Power June 13 2023
Muzafar Ali is a Hazara artist from Afghanistan who grew up in Pakistan as a refugee. In 2004, when he was 17, he returned to Afghanistan to work with the United Nations disarmament program. This work took him across the country, and he extensively photographed the regions, providing an insight into rarely documented areas.
In 2015, Muzafar was resettled to Australia through the humanitarian visa program. In collaboration with director, Jolyon Hoff, he made the documentary film ‘The Staging Post’, about the process of establishing a refugee-led school in Indonesia, which became one of Australia’s most successful documentaries ever.
When Muzafar discovers that Afghans have been in Australia for 160 years he’s compelled to photograph and document the stories of their descendants. His photography project becomes an even more personal journey as he interacts with these people.
Then, in 2021, the Taliban take over Afghanistan. With his homeland lost, he’s driven to help and reaches out to his former colleagues, whose lives are in danger. Finally, at the Camel Cup in Maree, Muzafar and his family find they have a new home with their Watandar - their countrymen.
This new documentary covers the stories of Muzafar’s meetings with Afghan descendants in Australia, his ever-increasing concern for people still trapped under current Taliban rule and his own search for a new Afghan-Australian identity.
Muzafar Ali’s charismatic personality and his cheerful interaction with the Australian Afghan descendants, drives this documentary. The people that he meets seem to be true-blue Aussies on the surface but he finds that they are very much aware and proud of their heritage. Although born in Australia, they find it difficult to have a true sense of their own identity – are they Australians or Afghans or what?
The Afghan descendants that he meets all tell their stories in a warm, disarming way, enabling Muzafar to understand their history in this country and become part of their lives and identity.
Meanwhile, Muzafar is dealing with the horror stories of Taliban rule coming from Afghanistan and he provides us with a first-hand perspective on their experiences.
This is a moving documentary that gives a compelling insight into a refugee’s search for his own Afghan-Australian identity.
Len Power's reviews
are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’
programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.