The award-winning book composed by Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani while he was detained in one of Australia's offshore detention centres is now being made into a film.
The Kurdish journalist, novelist and filmmaker is currently living in New Zealand after six years in detention in Australia's offshore processing centres (first, imprisoned on Manus Island, and last year being transferred to the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby).
Boochani fled Iran and its oppressive regime in 2013. His boat came ashore at Christmas Island, off the coast of Australia, on his birthday, four days after a new agreement was signed with Papua New Guinea ruling that those found in Australian waters would be taken to a detention centre on Manus Island for processing. It meant, despite months of travelling, he would never be resettled in Australia.
His book, No Friend but the Mountains was composed during his incarceration, via text message from Manus Island to his friend Omid Tofighian, who translated the work into English from Farsi.
Boochani told The Guardian that the film version would begin production in Australia in mid-2021.
“The most important thing is that we should share this story, and this story is not just my story,” he said. “What the Australian government has done, in Manus and Nauru and still continues [with] 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.”
No Friend but the Mountains recounts Boochani's journey from Indonesia to Australia by boat, and his ensuing imprisonment by the Australian government, which until his departure, repeatedly refused him entry. Incredibly, it's been a resounding success in the very country it criticises over its 400-odd pages – picking up A$125,000 (Dh312,000) at the country's richest literary prize, the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, among several other prestigious awards.
Boochani arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand, as a guest of the city's Word Christchurch festival in November.