Socialist Worker

Stateless—a drama that only touches the surface of racist detention camps

by Jasmine Fischer
Issue No. 2714

Stateless follows the struggles of those locked in Australias migrant detention camps

Stateless follows the struggles of those locked in Australia's migrant detention camps


Stateless begins with the rarely-told story of the horrific journey refugees go through to seek safety.

We are introduced to an Afghan family who are desperately trying to get on a boat to Australia.

They get separated with only the father and daughter making it to Australia, where they are immediately locked up in a detention centre out in the desert.

In a parallel story, a young Australian woman undergoing severe mental distress joins a cult, gets kicked out and goes on the run.

This part of the story, based on true events, sees the woman detained in a detention centre after pretending to be a German national and refusing to give her true identity to police.

If anything the real story is far worse than what’s presented on screen.

The young woman was initially jailed for six months before being moved to a detention centre, despite showing clear signs of mental distress and only speaking basic German.

As the series develops it is clear the creators are more concerned with the structure of different departments within the immigration system than with politicians.

Bureaucratic

It seems to see the problem as one of bureaucratic mismanagement rather than a deliberate policy of racism.

I also wanted to know more about the Afghan family, but the story is focused on the white woman.

The detention centre guards are portrayed as mostly good people with only one or two who are very racist. In the programme, guards cover up their bad treatment of refugees.

It’s just a glimpse into the reality of these detention centres.

There have been thousands and thousands of complaints about prison guards from Australian detention centres over the decades.

This is not down to a few “bad apples” but a racist system that treats refugees as criminals.

Parts of this series were good and there are some standout performances from an impressive cast of actors. But it can be a little frustrating to watch.


Beautiful but harrowing animation

This Japanese animation series follows the Mutoh family on a journey of survival as a series of catastrophic earthquakes destroys society and ultimately sinks Japan.

Based on the 1973 novel, this adaptation by Masaaki Yuasa takes place in a world where the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has just gone ahead.

It’s story is sometimes bleak and harrowing, and its messaging occasionally a little confused and troubling.

But the animation—particularly the landscapes—are beautiful, and the storyline intelligent and sensitive.

Japan Sinks: 2020 is available on Netflix now

Spike Lee’s KKK crime film soon to be on Netflix

Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman is set to be released to Netflix on Friday of this week.

The basis of the film is the true story of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Spring’s first black police officer. He goes undercover alongside Flip Zimmerman, a Jewish officer, to foil the plans of the local Ku Klux Klan.

The film attracted some criticism—including in Socialist Worker—for its largely positive portrayal of the police.

But it’s also funny, and it cuts to the heart of racism in the early 1970s while drawing parallels with Donald Trump’s administration.

BlACKkKANSMAN, available on Netflix from 24 July

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Article information

Reviews
Fri 17 Jul 2020, 16:38 BST
Issue No. 2714
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