Freedom of movement is a human right

Dear Prime Minister,

Letter from Behrouz Boochani – co-director of Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time – to the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom in Australia

Her Excellency Menna Rawlings
High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Australia
3 September 2017

Your Excellency,

My name is Behrouz Boochani, I’m writing this letter from Manus prison camp which is run by the Australian Government in Papua New Guinea. I’m writing in regards to the 61st London International Film Festival. I am a film director, and my movie Chauka Please Tell Us The Time (made with co-odirector Arash Kamali Sarvestani) has been accepted for the festival. It will screen on 8th and 9th October. This is a great honour for any director and I would like to attend the festival screenings. My movie was also selected to be shown in the Sydney Film Festival earlier this year, where it had its world premiere, but the Australian Government did not allow me to attend. I am asking you to give me a visa to attend the London Film Festival. I have been here in this prison camp for more than four years, even though I have committed no crime, and I am kept here by the Australian Government who exiled me by force.

Yours faithfully,

Behrouz Boochani

CC: Mayor of London, The Right Honourable Sadiq Khan
PEN International
BFI London Film Festival
Amnesty International
Geoffrey Robertson QC
— BFI London Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival response to letter sent from Behrouz Boochani – co-director of Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time – to the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom in Australia

The BFI London Film Festival welcomes any filmmaker wishing to support their film in the Festival and fully supports human rights and freedom of speech. If Behrouz Boochani was free to travel, he would be welcome as a guest at the Festival, joining his co-director Arash Kamali Sarvestani who is attending to introduce the International Premiere of Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time and participate in a post-screening Q&A. CHAUKA is an exceptional documentary filmed inside the Manus Island detention centre first-hand by Boochani who is detained there. It reveals much about his own experience as well as that of other detainees. It also questions the impact of the detention centre on Manus Island itself, through testimony from members of the local community. It is brave, thoughtful and urgent filmmaking and has earned its selection in our Documentary Competition in a very strong year for documentaries.

Immigration and the plight of refugees are significant topics addressed by a number of films – both fiction and documentary – throughout the BFI London Film Festival programme this year. This is one of the most pressing issues of our time and the Festival programme interrogates and reflects that reality.

Clare Stewart
Festival Director
BFI London Film Festival
— Clare Stewart, Festival Director, BFI London Film Festival

Amnesty now for all asylums seekers and refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, for a peaceful and supported settlement in Australia, and for Behrouz Boochani to travel to the London Film Festival.