Home > Culture > Hope


Documentary (103 minutes)
Flying Carpet Films 2007

Seven years ago 400 people set out on a boat bound for the Australian coast but only seven made it.

Steve Thomas’ moving documentary Hope is the story of asylum seeker Amal Basry.

Amal had watched The Titanic at a cinema in Baghdad the night before she fled Iraq.

18 months later the people smuggling boat she was on sank between Indonesia and Australia. 350 people, mostly women and children, drowned.

The boat later became know as the SIEV-X.

Amal survived the largest maritime disaster since World War II, by clinging to the floating body of a dead woman for 22 hours.

She did not know if her 16- year-old son Amjed, who had boarded the 19.5-metre fishing boat with her in Indonesia, and who had given her a life jacket, was alive or dead.

Hope (which is what the name Amal means) tells the story through the eyes of Thomas after he heard Amal make a speech describing the experience.

“Everybody was in tears, including me," Thomas said. "Here was a woman who was not going to be shut up.

"She has a strong voice and she was going to speak out about the boat, about the uncertainties of the boat, of the sinking.

Perhaps a little long, Hope is a low budget film which would have been improved with a better edit, but these flaws are unable to mask Amal’s amazingly courageous spirit and her refusal to be silent about the innocent people who died in this dreadful tragedy.

Despite the tragedy of the story, this documentary is not depressing but rather echoes its name. It’s a story of hope.

Together Amal and Thomas have collaborated to make sure that the SIEV-X disaster is not forgotten.

Reviewed by Bruce Mullan. Hope will be screened as part of the “Sink or Swim” exhibition of work by Geraldine Berkemeier and Gary Shinfield at the Gold Coast Arts Centre Gallery on Thursday, 6 November at 6.00pm (No charge).