Journey Beyond Fear (PG)
Rating: 5 / 5
It wouldn’t be accurate to call Australian-made feature documentary Journey Beyond Fear enjoyable viewing. Instead it is a confronting yet uplifting film that will leave you thinking—and feeling—long after you leave the theatre.
Filmed over seven years, the film follows the journey of a family of Afghan refugees living in Malaysia as they await resettlement in Australia. It’s billed as the story of a family who “join the queue, rather than jump it”, but watching them wrestle with an often ponderous bureaucracy as the process drags out we see the human cost of a broken system.
This is a real labour of love for director/producer Robyn Hughan and her team, who live alongside the family and are welcomed into their home and made privy to their struggles. We are shown the deep impact on each of the family members as the years pass, but the focus is on oldest child Zahra.
It is genuinely heartbreaking watching the wait for a safe home take its toll on her as she struggles to not give in to despair. As she is forced to face challenges never experienced by most Australian children, audiences can only admire the way she balances her desire to study and fulfill her dream of teaching with the necessity of helping provide for her family—and will be enraged when she is exploited by unscrupulous employers.
But, in the midst of despair, love remains. The way in which the family rallies around one another, and the sheer joy with which they greet news that they can go to Australia, will make viewers proud of what this country can offer when at its best—and honoured to welcome this family to our shores.
+ The love that binds this family, and the way it sees them triumph over adversity
– Extremely confronting scenes that show the impact this journey has on their mental and emotional health. Trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts and discussion