A Defining Tale For Our Time
Following the announcement that ‘No Friend But The Mountains’ is to be adapted into a feature film by Sweetshop & Green, Aurora Films and Hoodlum, author Behrouz Boochani spoke to the Guardian about bringing this important story to a wider audience.
Behrouz Boochani’s book, No Friend But The Mountains, to be made into a film
Kurdish Iranian writer says the film will bring more attention to Australia’s brutal immigration detention regime.
Behrouz Boochani’s award-winning debut book, No Friend But The Mountains, will be made into a feature film with production to begin in Australia in mid-2021.
The Kurdish Iranian writer and journalist, who is currently living in New Zealand after six years in immigration detention, said the film adaptation would bring more international attention to the truth behind Australia’s brutal immigration detention regime.
“The most important thing is that we should share this story, and this story is not just my story,” he told Guardian Australia. “What the Australian government has done, in Manus and Nauru and still continues this policy – we should share this story in different languages – and cinema is a very important and powerful language.
“It is a powerful platform, it is a language for everyone. I think more people will engage with this story, and we can take this story more internationally. That is very important.”
Boochani’s 2018 biography, written one text message at a time from within the Manus detention centre, has previously won Australia’s richest literary prize, the Victorian premier’s literary prize, as well as the National Biography award.
A regular correspondent for Guardian Australia, Boochani wrote about seeing his friends shot and murdered by guards, his time in solitary confinement after reporting on a hunger strike, and the mental harm inflicted on fellow asylum seekers inside the Manus Island detention centre.
No Friend But The Mountains was written while in detention and translated in collaboration with interpreter Moones Mansoubi and academic Omid Tofighian. The journalist also filmed the documentary Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time about life on Manus using a smartphone hidden from guards.
The film adaption of No Friend But The Mountains will be a collaborative project between three Australian production companies: Aurora Films, Sweetshop & Green and Hoodlum Entertainment, and will be filmed primarily in Australia.
Boochani said the new film should incorporate his previous body of work, and those of his fellow asylum seekers and refugees.
“We recorded this part of Australian history,” he said. “That is important.”
“[In saying this] I include the book and … the works that other people [created] about Manus and this exile policy. It is important that we created those and now others can use them.
“The Australian government always tries to hide the truth – and they should know that now the story is a big story. It’s not only my story, it’s our story.”
The adaptation was initiated by writer and producer Ákos Armont and producer Antony Waddington, the companies said in a statement.
“Mountains is a defining tale for our time: not just of Australia, but how the world deals with refugees,” Waddington said. “Funny at times, it’s overwhelmingly a story of triumph over despair.”
Boochani, who was born in Kurdistan, fled Iran in 2013 after revolutionary guards broke into the offices of a newspaper he co-founded. He arrived on Christmas Island, a territory of Australia, in July that year, and was moved to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea in August.
Boochani has also won the Anna Politkovskaya award for investigative journalism and an Amnesty International Australia media award.
“There are some big projects that in future, people will hear more about them,” he told Guardian Australia. “This is important [but] it is not the only project. I am working with lots of researchers and also in other arts communities.”
This article was first published by Guardian Australia on 24 February 2020.