For My Friends in Detention

'For my Friends in Detention' is a short documentary that examines the impact refugee activism in Australia has on people on both sides of the fence.

It focuses on the relationship of Sarah, a refugee activist and Cali a Tamil refugee.

The film draws upon observational footage filmed over several years of the campaign that includes Sarah's first experience of a detention centre and Cali's first speech after getting his freedom.

Through portraying a personal story about the impacts of activism, 'For my Friends in Detention' invites the audience to believe that actions can make a difference.

  • Zebedee Parkes
  • Georgette Cox
  • Zebedee Parkes
  • Karl Ford
  • Ming-Hsuan Hsueh
  • Andrew Ping
  • Zebedee Parkes
  • Chun Mathew Lai
  • Glen Stasiuk
    Executive Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    human rights
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 53 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 6, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Sydney Indie Film Festival
    October 17, 2016
    Best Short Documentary
  • European Short Film Festival
    October 4, 2016
    Official Selection
  • Wandering Reel Traveling Film Festival
    United States
  • Pembroke Taparelli Art and Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Global Impact Film Festival
    Washington DC
    United States
    August 27, 2016
    Official Selection
  • The ModCon Online London Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    September 24, 2016
    Best Short Student Documentary
  • Docs Without Borders Film Festival

    United States
  • Who are Australia's 'boat people'?
    March 30, 2016
  • 2015 Murdoch Screen Prodcution Student Showcase
    December 10, 2015
Director Biography - Zebedee Parkes

Zebedee Parkes first experience filming the refugee campaign when he spontaneously jumped on a bus that was traveling two days into the desert to Leonara detention centre in January 2011.

Himself and Sarah Ross (one of the main characters in the documentary) witnessed Australia's detention system for the first time, including seeing children waving over fences and being intimidated by guards.

Zeb made a short film of the protest that was screened at a number of community events and since then has being regularly filming and writing about the campaign.

"For my Friends in Detention" is the culmination of several years of experiences filming the refugee rights campaign.

Previously he has worked for an Aboriginal community TV station in Broome, Western Australia.

Currently he is green left weekly's refugee writer, has had videos and photos used by groups such as Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and GetUp! and being published in intentional papers such as Carta di Roma, an Italian newspaper that focuses on asylum seeker issues.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

"For my Friends in Detention" is a documentary that has come out of years of filming the refugee campaign and seeing the impact it has on the people involved, on both sides of the fence.

I started filming the campaign in 2011, when I made a short film of the Refugee Rights Action Network's trip to Leonoara detention centre. It was also Sarah's first experience of a detention centre, I captured that on film.

Since then I have been filming the refugee campaign for the last several years, from protests to then following people to parties and cricket practice.

I wanted to use this observational footage to tell a story. One that was both personal, but more importantly gives people a sense of belief that their actions can matter, through seeing the impact the activists actions are having.

The greatest challenge was finding a narrative among dozens of hours of footage.

A love story provided the perfect scaffolding.

I am fortunate enough to know both Sarah (a refugee rights activist) and Cali (a Tamil refugee), during the several years I spent filming the campaign got together.

It is a film I felt an obligation to make, having been enmeshed in the campaign for years and given the trust by so many people to film it.

I hope this film breaks through the media coverage of how terrible the situation is, and instead gives people belief that their actions can make a difference.