Private Project

Stop the boats - the lie of saving lives at sea (PW)

In May 2015 a small fishing boat crashed into a reef close to the tiny Indonesian island of Landu. 65 refugees and six crew members were saved by local fishermen. The refugees have an extraordinary story to tell. They claim that Australian security forces captured their original boat en route to New Zealand. Then they forced the refugees onto two unseaworthy boats and bribed the crew to take the refugees back to Indonesia.

This operation was part of Australia's so-called 'Stop the boats'-policy, a controversial approach to push back refugee boats, which the Australian government claims is saving lives at sea. The highly militarised campaign is shrouded in secrecy and little is known about the operations out on the high sea.

But what is really happenening when nobody is watching? What are the consequences for those who are at the receiving end? The film makers went to Indonesia to meet the refugees in secret and let them tell their story. Underpinned by stills and videos from the journey, expert and witness interviews and statements by offcials involved the film reconstructs the ill-fated journey of the refugees and gives an unique insight into Australia's anti-refugee operations from the perspective of the refugees themselves.

  • Nicolai Jung
  • Nicolai Jung
  • Phil Miller
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  • Runtime:
    55 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 21, 2017
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  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, United Kingdom
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Director Biography - Nicolai Jung

Nicolai Jung is a German based film maker and freelance journalist with a special focus on South Asia.
He has been working in Australia, Germany, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, among others.

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Director Statement

As a European who is following closely the political discourse on the refugee crisis resulting from the war in Syria, I have taken special interest in the topic of the film, as voices are growing in the EU to copy the Australian approach towards the arrival of refugees. Too little consideration is given to how this approach is affecting the refugees involved, but also to what extent the moral foundation of the societies who are endorsing this policies is being altered.