With a few months worth of correspondence and an incredible amount of help from SCARF, we were able sit down to an interview with Alan, a Congolese refugee that arrived in Wollongong 6 years ago. We got to talk about his migrant experience, and beyond that producing good content for the film, I feel like a learnt a lot about the area, its people, its problems and how hard it can be to find yourself trying to build a new life in a foreign country.
Alan came across with no prior knowledge of Australia, very little English and limited support from case workers. Between SCARF, patience, support from the existing refugee community and Alan’s own gusto, he was able to get his own place, learn English and find plenty of steady work. I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure that I could have done the same if I were in his position.
In terms of his contribution to the documentary, Alan gave a modernized perspective compared to Pats, but still echoed the themes and ideals Pat brought to the table. In that sense, it could not have gone better. In the film, we will place the two alongside each other, attempting to create an obvious thematic process in the hopes that it will present a stronger message about the points they have in common and demonstrate through juxtaposition the items that they don’t have in common.
On another, perhaps more ethical note, we heard some pretty distressing stories from Alan. Not only about his years fleeing conflict and persecution, but about his years in refugee camps and also stories that took place in Australia. Particularly a story about Alan and his cousin being chased by a group of men for kilometers from Wollongong to Coniston was pretty distressing. That will be sure to make the cut in the film, but the stories of the Congo are another matter. Though they will be covered, Alan gave in depth recollections of attacks and conflict in the Congo that I don’t think will be mentioned in detail in the film as it doesn’t specifically relate to the topic. Here is the crux. Though I’m sure that the stories from Africa are important, if they don’t relate to the film can I include them? Their inclusion could easily be seen as cheap exploitation, appearing like I’m including an almost unrelated story simply for the shock value. On the other hand, can I neglect such an important topic and just ignore that section of the footage?