5 months ago
Sweetshop & Green, Aurora Films and Hoodlum Entertainment have entered into a partnership to develop and produce a feature film of Behrouz Boochani’s ground-breaking book 'No Friend But The Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison'.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish Iranian journalist, author and poet who fled Iran in 2012 after the newspaper he co-founded was raided by the Iranian government. As a refugee, he attempted to travel to Australia by boat from Indonesia to seek asylum, but was intercepted and imprisoned on an Australian-run offshore processing camp on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. Behrouz would spend almost seven years confined in offshore detention. No Friend But The Mountains is a vivid and lyrical account of his harrowing experience.
The book was arduously typed out on a contraband phone via WhatsApp in Farsi and translated by Omid Tofighian, all in defiance of the system detaining him. It was dangerous work.
Behrouz said writing had helped him survive: “I could keep my identity and keep my humanity. This system is designed to take our identity, designed to reduce us to numbers.”
The mere existence of the book is testament to his resilience.
Behrouz’s book famously went on to win Australia’s top literary award in 2019 – the Victorian Prize for Literature – while he remained detained on Manus Island, and ironically, he accepted the award via phone link.
The feature film project was initiated by writer / producer Ákos Armont and producer Antony Waddington for Aurora Films and is intended to be shot primarily in Australia, with production slated for mid-2021.
Says Gal Greenspan, managing director at Sweetshop & Green: “Behrouz’s story is highly important and deeply moving. It is our goal to produce the film as an international co-production and share it with as many people around the world as possible.”
Says Antony: “Mountains is a defining tale for our time: not just of Australia, but how the world deals with refugees. Funny at times, it’s overwhelmingly a story of triumph over despair.”
Says Nathan Mayfield, executive producer and co-founder, Hoodlum Entertainment: “This is an incredible story about courage, the power of one man’s resistance and of the written word to give us hope. Hoodlum are proud to partner with Aurora Films and Sweetshop & Green and look forward to bringing each of our strengths in to bear in realising this extraordinary story for the screen.”
The book No Friend But The Mountains is an international bestseller and is sold in 19 countries. It has been recognised by The Guardian as “a cacophony that evokes the harsh physical reality, uncertainty and the incessant abuses practiced in Manus Island prison – [he] deconstructs the established principles of genres as he employs them, thus positioning his book as an anti-genre.”
It won Australia’s richest literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature, as well as the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Non-fiction, the Special Award in the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards, the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) for General non-fiction book of the year and the Australian National Biography Award.