Film sends first boat people back to sea
WHEN award winning Uki illustrator Matt Ottley read John Marsden's Home and Away he instantly knew he would collaborate with the popular Australian author to bring the book to life.
The story involves a role reversal in which war breaks out in Australia and a family is forced to escape by boat.
Those members of the family who survive the journey reach a land where there's "heaps of space," but are told that there's "no room" for them, and that they are "illegal immigrants ... not genuine refugees".
"The story was originally written by John as a response to Tampa, a Norwegian freighter which was refused entry into Australian waters (after rescuing 438 people), and the children overboard affair, which was an equally awful incident," Mr Ottley said.
"It hit me in the sternum and left me feeling wounded, and I just knew I had to work with John on it."
To illustrate the story, Mr Ottley, whose book Requiem for a Beast was awarded CBCA Picture Book of the Year in 2008, interviewed a psychologist who worked at the Woomera Detention Centre.
"I must stress that this is not a children's book because of its subject matter ... it's a pretty grim story," Mr Ottley said.
About 6000 copies of Home and Away were originally printed in 2008, and it has recently been re-printed a further 2000 copies.
The re-issued copy will be accompanied with a 90 minute Home and Away DVD, produced by Mr Ottley, in collaboration with 16-year-old Kingscliff student Kyle Green who narrates the story, and 17-year-old Murwillumbah singer Nina Baumer who sings lines in the book, accompanied by a symphony orchestra.
"Australia was criticised by the UN as having the worst human rights record of any developed nation in it's treatment of asylum seekers (after Tampa) and one reason that I produced this DVD, and am really pushing the relaunch of the book, is that I fear that Australia has politically descended back into that territory of treating asylum seekers as illegal immigrants and as a threat to the sovereign borders of Australia," Mr Ottley said.
Home and Away
Book launch and New Land, New Life film
Thursday November 13, The Regent Cinema, Murwillumbah
Child $5, Adult $15, Family $30