image
The Bridgewater Knitting Club Credit: Kristy Dowsing

Miss this ... and you are mad.

Certifiably so.

It’s a stunner.

The most beautiful story. So evocative, so powerful. So utterly, fully, human.

The story of Mary meeting Mohammad ( TT Arts, here, inc. screenings at the State ).

Christian, prejudiced Mary cannot believe she is knitting a beanie for a Muslim. Because the Muslims and other asylum seekers have hit town and are incarcerated behind the double high-wire at Pontville. And some of the locals don’t like it. There are shots of an ABC report of a protest meeting in town where all the predictable prejudice against the ‘other’ is wheeled out. In bucketloads.

Taking a direct cue from the political masters, the locals – who only a decade or so before had welcomed with open arms the desperate refugees from Muslim Kosovo - rail against ‘these people’ who have managed somehow to breach the borders.

One of them is Mohammad. An Afghan, he’s fled his homeland and has been living in Quetta Pakistan working as a poor plumber. Illegally and in desperate fear of his life. Two brothers are targeted and executed by the Taliban. He’s next. All because he is from the wrong religious sect. He’s an Hazari.

He is the only hope for his family. He leaves his wife and children and makes that most horrendous of journeys across continents and oceans ... only to be locked up in the land of the brave and free ... Australia. Where for 50 days, after getting news his first application has been rejected, he breaks down. He remembers nothing of that period.

But out there in Brighton land – and with the exemplary and courageous leadership of Mayor Foster - there’s a revolution brewing. A knitting revolution.

The ladies of the Bridgewater Women’s Knitting Group are knitting up a pearler. What a bunch of darlings they are; in their circle, sometimes with a bottle or two of bubbles in the middle, knitting their soft and generous and – until they actually meet ‘em – prejudiced big hearts out.

Among them is Mary. She is a real classic. She’s done it tough in her life… working all over Oz and NZ with hubby in a vast array of hand-to-mouth jobs.

Her hubby died about six years ago and she’s not in the best of health ... She gets about with a stick and in a motorised wheelchair – the shot of her getting a slab from the local in her wheelchair is a classic.

Mary has deep reservations about these incomers. But then she meets a couple of young ladies with very big hearts. Clarissa and Emily. One is an OT; the other has a young family (“I can always go home and put my little one to bed; they can’t,” she says at one stage in a beautifully captured moment which tears your heart-strings). And also weighing in with its considerable compassion is the local Anglican parish church with its Lady Vicar and the visiting Bishop Harrower.

The two young ladies are determined to meet the men behind the wire to see what help they can give. Mary goes along for the ride with some of the other ladies.

They meet Mohammad ... and the most beautiful, the most evocative relationship slowly emerges, crashing through barriers if ignorance and prejudice, revealing that we are all just human beings, after all ...

Heather Kirkpatrick – with the help of her dad’s legacy (all selflessly spent on this) has produced an absolutely stunning documentary. And with only the help of the odd mate, she has done it all. From 150 hours of shooting to months of editing it down. This is a labour of monumental love.

My god was it worth it. She has an eye, has Heather; she has to be the most natural cinematographer. Her shots are sometimes so intuitive as to take your breath away. Shots of beauty; shots of pathos; shots of wonder.  Some of the dialogue she has captured just cracked me up. I was mesmerised.

But, Heather, dump the first-person narration, go third-person and bring in Cate (she’ll do it for nothing!) or some wondrous pro with that powerful voice quality. And you’ll slay ‘em in the aisles at Sundance.

For god’s sake don’t miss this ...

If you don’t feel tears welling ... you are not quite fully human.

Which is precisely what our opportunistic fear-mongering political masters have ceased to be.

image
Mary and Mohammad on their weekend visit to Joy’s shack Credit: Kristy Dowsing

image
Mary and Mohammad spend the weekend at Joy’s shack. Credit: Kristy Dowsing

image
Pontville Detention Centre. Credit: Heather Kirkpatrick

image
Director / Producer Heather Kirkpatrick after filming Mohammad at Great Lake, Tasmania.
Credit: Kristy Dowsing

image
The Bridgewater Knitting Club Credit: Kristy Dowsing