SSI News Blog

Iraqi-born and award-winning filmmaker Ali Al Azeez is facilitating a series of filmmaking workshops for the general public in the lead-up to the SSI New Beginnings Winter Festival.

 A photograph of Iraqi-born filmmaker Ali Al Azeez.

Iraqi-born and award-winning filmmaker Ali Al Azeez.

Marking Refugee Week 2019, the Festival will form part of Open Inner West at the Community Refugee Welcome Centre (CRWC) in Callan Park, Lilyfield, on June 22, 2019.

It will showcase artworks produced at the Welcome Creative Hub — a series of cross-generational and cross-cultural public workshops facilitated by well-established artists and filmmakers from a refugee background — and to become a permanent art installation featured at the Centre.

Mr Al Azeez, an acclaimed filmmaker in Iraq whose film Link won an award at the Baghdad International Film Festival, said that running the workshops had been a valuable experience in skill sharing and had given him a platform to drive creative participation and social connection between inner west locals and newcomers.

“It’s been great to meet new people from the local community and see the workshop participants bring their creative vision to reality through film,” he said.

Arriving in Australia as a refugee in 2015, Mr Al Azeez continued to make films, including a short documentary called Without Borders, which celebrated multicultural Australia.

The inaugural screening of his second short film in Australia, LifeJacket, was held at the New Beginnings Festival in 2016. LifeJacket is a fictional story based on real-life experiences of people who arrive in Australia by boat and find themselves stuck in limbo due to personal traumas and cultural differences.

SSI Arts and Culture Producer Raphael Brasil said the success of the Welcome Creative Hub reflected SSI’s ongoing commitment to support established artists from a refugee and migrant background.

The Hub provided a platform for established artists of refugee background to transfer their skills and knowledge to a broader audience, he said.

“As newcomers adapt to a new social and cultural environment, the Hub provides opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue, highlighting the concept of ‘place’ and connection to Sydney’s inner west.

“The initiative also allows local communities to learn something new, all while making a social impact.”

The project is run by CRWC in close collaboration with Settlement Services International (SSI) and Inner West Council (IWC) and uses a fresh and innovative approach to creative engagement.

Established artists and filmmakers that are driving the workshops include Majid Rabet, Ali Al Azeez, Mohammed Alanezi and Elham Marvi.

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