Year:  2023

Director:  Angus McDonald

Release:  July 29, 30, 2023

Running time: 67 minutes

Worth: $15.50
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Moz Azimitabar, Farhad Bandesh

… confronting yet optimistic …

Freedom is Beautiful. The meaning behind the title is hard to take for granted as the final credits roll on Angus McDonald’s documentary.

Reflecting on the brutality of Australia’s asylum seeker policy, McDonald follows the story of Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar and Farhad Bandesh, two Kurdish men who were imprisoned on Manus Island after they fled Iran.

During their 6-year journey on Manus Island, the pair endured inhumane living conditions intensified by hostility on behalf of the guards. Evidently, the collective experience was a strategic plan to disillusion asylum seekers and compel them to return home.

Moz and Farhad’s relationship, built through their shared passion of art and music, shepherds them through the storm of detention and delivers them to freedom on the mainland; freedom, they say, is something that neither of them had felt before.

McDonald, an artist himself, recounts Moz and Farhad’s story with elegance, incorporating the duo’s haunting poetry and hopeful music, intercut with archival footage of the ruthless politicians and harsh policies that drove their art in the first place.

What would be an aggravating story of systemic racism ends up being a moving account that speaks to the power of human connection and its ability to withstand unimaginable cruelty. Moreover, interweaving interviews with Moz and Farhad’s Australian supporters, such as Craig Foster, makes you realise that for every evil there is a formidable force of good.

Reaching the final sequence of Freedom is Beautiful, where Moz and Farhad professionally record the song that accompanied them through their journey, it is hard not to cry tears of joy as a lifetime of resilience and hope pays off.

As Farhad sits outside a hotel in Melbourne talking to a friend still in detention, we are reminded that this is just one asylum seeker story, and many are still in the midst of their storm.

Angus McDonald’s artistry shines in the confronting yet optimistic tale of Moz Azimitabar and Farhad Bandesh who, despite the powerful force of the Australian government, find the freedom that they have been searching for their whole lives.