Curtin lecturer Dr Marilyn Metta, from the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts has received international recognition for her documentary How I Became a Refugee, with it being selected for screening at the 2015 Myanmar Film Festival in Los Angeles.
How I Became a Refugee is the true story of the Ni Chin family’s journey from their homeland, where they escaped religious persecution from the military government, through to Malaysia before being resettled in Perth. Metta and co-producer Chris Gosfield went to Malaysia in May 2013 to film the documentary, wanting to share the story of how the Chin people had led poor but happy lives in the mountain ranges of western Burma before they were forced to flee their homes. The story of the Ni Chin family is only one of many refugee stories that have been silenced but it tells an important tale about home, homeland, family and community.
The film has received the Award of Recognition from the Global Accolade Film Competition and recently won an Award of Recognition at the Best Shorts International Film Competition.
Metta said the awards were an important acknowledgement for the Ni Chin family.
“This award is a tribute to the Ni Chin family who inspired us and the audience with their extraordinary courage, dignity and resilience and their bravery in sharing their personal stories to raise awareness of the plight of so many displaced people.”
It was one of the only Australian films to win under the category.
“We are extremely delighted to win this award alongside films which had much larger budgets and crew. We made this film on a tiny budget and with only two crew members, but with an enormous amount of passion and faith,” she said.
Metta and Gosfield also founded the Mettamorphosis Inc. in 2013, which is a not-for-profit charitable organisation aimed at raising awareness and funds to assist and support the educational needs of displaced children. Using the documentary film they hope to raise awareness of the Chin people’s plight as well as the plight of so many asylum seekers and refugees around the world. The central message of the film is “becoming a refugee is not a choice.”
“We are now working on incorporating the documentary film into an education school kit to be used in Western Australia schools to facilitate better understanding about young people from refugee backgrounds and global citizenship.”
“It has been three incredible years since I first met the Chin people in Malaysia in 2012. The film awards and the special screening at the Refugee Week closing ceremony marked a special moment in our journey with the documentary film and our work with Mettamorphosis.”
“At many times during the two year period of scripting, filming, editing and post-production of the film, I felt heavy with the responsibility because it was very important to me to tell this story in ways that honour their lives and experiences.”
The Network of Myanmar American Association is a non-profit arts organisation that produces the Myanmar Film Festival in the United States. The festival will run in Los Angeles from 19-20 of September 2015. The festival brings a greater awareness and appreciation for Myanmar (Burmese) culture.