Displacement, Exile and Incarceration Commuted into Cinematic Vision
Abstract: Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time (Behrouz Boochani and Arash Kamali Sarvestani, 2017) is a documentary that exposes the systematic torture of refugees banished by the Australian Government to Manus Prison (in Papua New Guinea and officially called the Manus Regional Processing Centre). Shot clandestinely from a mobile phone camera by Boochani and smuggled out for codirection with Kamali Sarvestani, the film documents an important phase in the history of migration to Australia. This article analyses the film by foregrounding the experience of displacement, exile and incarceration as a unique cinematic standpoint. Boochani’s cinematic vision and socio-political critique will be interpreted in terms of embodied knowing and his existential predicament. The symbiotic relationship between the experience of seeking asylum, exile, imprisonment and the filmmaking process raises critical questions regarding the film as anti-genre, common tropes used to define refugeehood, and the criteria necessary to interpret and evaluate cultural production created from this unique position. The article draws on theories pertaining to accented cinema and incorporates ideas from social epistemology. Furthermore, it considers the author’s dialogue and collaboration with Boochani and Kamali Sarvestani and examines the significance of various contributors to the filmmaking process and cinematic vision.