I’ve never plugged anything in these pages before, but I’m going to have to make an exception. The name of this post is the name of a film that I am “spruiking,” right here in River City. It came out last year and is available on DVD. Based on events that actually happened, even if they didn’t transpire the way a screenwriter would have wished. This is the sort of story that could have been easily ruined with a ham handed approach to character and plot. As it actually unrolls, there is magic in it.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s 1990 and an Indonesian fishing boat abandons a dozen Iraqi and Cambodian refugees on a remote Western Australian beach, promising them that a bus over the sandhills will soon come and take them to Perth. When the fishing boat sinks on its way home, the two people smugglers also end up in the empty outback. Most of the men are quickly caught, except for two of the asylum seekers and one of the fishermen. The three, Arun (Kenneth Moraleda), Youssif (Rodney Afif) and the fisherman Ramelan (Srisacd Sacdpraseuth), with nothing in common but their misfortune and determination, escape arrest and begin an epic journey through the deserted landscape. Laconically pursued by an army reservist unit, they bicker amongst themselves as they try to find a big town – like Broome or Perth – without the slightest idea of the distances involved.

Review by Louise Keller:
“It’s a buddy movie without buddies; a road movie without a road; a chase movie with nowhere to go. Lucky Miles is a unique Australian story, bringing together three fish-out-of water characters thrown together out of necessity. While the story about asylum-seeking refugees is political in nature, the result is compellingly entertaining as filmmaker Michael James Rowland injects wry humour into the dramatic situations. Striking remote Australian settings and diverse, engaging performances make this a film like no other.

When we first meet the group of Iraqi and Cambodian refugees who swim to the promise of a new life on the pristine sands of Western Australia, we have no idea what their future will hold. Central to the story is the plight of three outcasts who find their fates intertwined when the merciless desert offers no option. Iraqi engineer Youssif (Rodney Afif) who comes from Basra, a city of gardens and fountains, finds himself figuratively handcuffed to Arun (Kenneth Moraleda), a Cambodian in search of his Australian father, and to Indonesian fisherman Ramelan (Srisacd Sacdpraseuth), whose boat has sunk. Each is an outcast and together they battle the heat, isolation, lack of water and their constant irritation of each other. Their plight is fraught with misadventure, as is the plight of their pursuers (the army reserve crew of Kangaroo 4), and the two remaining crew from the boat.

Geoff Burton’s cinematography is outstanding as it immerses us into the wild grasses, the desolate sands, the rocky terrain and the flame-coloured skies. The tone projected is one that sardonically reflects the often tragically amusing plight of all the characters. We become involved in all of their lives as refugees, army reserve patrol members and boat crew find themselves at the mercy of the harsh Australian sun and the elements. This is a film worth discovering – just as its diverse characters discover their fate in a new country.”

Despite the desolate backdrop and the desperate characters, this is one that needs to be on your list. You may not be Down Under or have access to the quixotic Quikflix, but it is a must see film. I loved it.

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