Lennox artist's film in pool for Oscar selection
LENNOX Head artist and filmmaker, Angus McDonald, said it was "mindblowing” that a documentary he produced and directed has made it into the pool from which Oscar nominations are selected.
The Archibald Prize finalist and his team of Nolan Verheij and Rebecca Booth made the 13-minute documentary titled Manus over two months at the end of last year, using footage shot secretly in 2017 by journalist Olivia Rousset at the time of the closure of the detention centre on the Papua New Guinean island.
It won the award for Best Documentary at the St Kilda film festival in January, which has qualified the work to be one of about 140 films in the pool for selection for final Academy Award nominations.
That's not a bad effort considering McDonald only ventured from the paintbrush and canvas to film in 2016.
This film aimed to give a face to refugees and the mental health and other problems they face while in limbo due to Australian Government policies.
"It's pretty mindblowing,” he said of the potential for an Oscar nomination.
"We didn't expect that.”
And he said it also furthers his aim of getting the stories of the refugees out to the broader public.
He was initially moved to "do something” when friends from Greece where McDonald once lived were sharing stories about local people welcoming the refugees escaping Syria.
"I was becoming more and more uncomfortable about the way we were treating a very small number of people arriving here by boat,” he said.
He travelled to Greece to see for himself what was happening on the ground, and decided "I wanted to do something about it (refugees in detention) if I could”.
He then began producing short films and broadcast them on You Tube.
It was last year that Ms Rousset contacted McDonald about using the 14 hours of footage she took of the men who volunteered to tell their story.
McDonald agreed to take on the project to give a face to the refugees who had been on Manus Island for more four years when the footage was taken.
"We don't know them, we don't see them,” he said.
"And that makes it very easy for the Federal Government to dehumanise them.”
The final selection for Academy Award nominations in the Documentary -- Short category will take place in December.
Manus also will be screened at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in the UK, which is a BAFTA award-qualifying festival.
McDonald said as the documentary is being screened at film festivals, other screenings are restricted to private viewings. He held one in Ballina.
But local people will be able to see the film at the upcoming Byron Bay International Film Festival, which will be held from October 18, but Manus is due to be screened on Sunday, October 27, at 7pm at the Byron Community Centre.
You can find out more about the screening of Manus at the website www.bff.com.au.
Tickets also are available online.