Mary Meets Mohammad


Directed by: Heather Kirkpatrick
2013 | Australia | 80 min

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Tuesday 29th April 2014 | 7pm (Doors open 6.30pm) |Bella Union Trades Hall – Cnr of Victoria Pde and Lygon St Carlton | Cost: Online: $12/$15 +BF | Door: $17/$20

Arts in Action proudly presents a screening of  the acclaimed asylum seeker documentary Mary Meets Mohammad, by Heather Kirkpatrick. The film follows the arrival of Tasmania’s first detention centre through the eyes of local Christian woman and knitting club member Mary and Muslim Afghan Hazara asylum seeker Mohammad, who is detained inside the centre, as they connect through the gift of a knitted beanie. The film was a 2013 Walkley Award Finalist and a finalist in Australia’s Outstanding Documentary Talent Award 2013.

Guest Speakers

The film will be followed by a discussion on “asylum seekers and the power of storytelling”. Guest speakers include Gabriella Bornstein (ASRC), Desh Balasubramaniam (founder of Ondru Arts-Voiceless Journeys Project), journalist Daniel Horsley (Unique Voices), who will be along to talk about their projects and the use of art and writing as a platform to express refugees stories. A representative from The Welcome Group will also be along to talk about their Winter Stitch Challenge and other creative projects supporting refugees. (Click here for speaker bios or see below)

“Mary Meets Mohammad is a timely and relevant story told with great sensitivity and subtlety. The judges were unanimous in their support for this documentary, as it showcases the tenacity and skill of the filmmaker in her capture of a charming narrative that unfolds to reveal a confronting and nuanced relationship – one that is both unexpected and profound in its depiction of personal transformation. Mary Meets Mohammad allows viewers to engage in a humane way with a volatile political issue.” Walkley Award Judges 30 Sep 2013


pontvilleThe film opens with the federal government’s surprise announcement to build Tasmania’s first detention centre for 400 male asylum seekers at Pontville, on the outskirts of Hobart.  The local community erupts with hostility as the Department of Immigration hold a public meeting two weeks later.

When a suggestion is made to knit beanies for the asylum seekers at the local knitting club – the response is a mixed one.  Knitter and elderly Christian woman Mary is strongly opposed to the Muslim asylum seekers but she is curious to see the ‘luxurious life’ of the detainees so visits the centre a couple of months later as the beanies are delivered.  Mary and four other knitters immediately commit to regular visits afterwards.

Mohamm-Mary-photoTheir friendships deepen with the Afghan Hazara men inside, as they help knitting and craft activities flourish within the detention centre.  Mary and the women shed many prior beliefs about asylum seekers and witness the centre’s first hunger strike. Asylum seeker Mohammad provides revealing insights of life inside the detention centre.

When the detention centre closes, some of the Afghan Hazara men decide to settle in Hobart.  The knitters stay in contact with the refugees and we see a close relationship develop between Mohammad and Mary.  Despite this, Mary remains uncomfortable with Mohammad’s Islamic beliefs.

08-Fishing-in-central-TasmaniaThe close of the film sees knitter Joy invite Mohammad and Mary to her fishing shack in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. Will a connection of common humanity prevail for Mary and Mohammad, over their religious and cultural differences?



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Daniel HorselyDaniel Horsley – Journalist
Unique Voices

There’s something broken about the way an issue is reported when an overwhelming amount of these stories aren’t involving the thoughts and anecdotes of those affected the most. There’s never been a more imperative time for refugees to tell their own stories their own way. Daniel aims to address this through Unique Voices.

Daniel is a journalist studying a masters in journalism at The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. In October 2013 he launched a website which allows refugees and asylum seekers to write their own stories.

DeshDesh Balasubramaniam Founder/Director at Ondru Arts
Voiceless Journeys

Ondru is a rising movement of arts & literature. Voiceless Journeys is a multi-art project that aims to celebrate the cultural diversity and raise awareness about the journey, struggle, survival and achievements of people from diverse backgrounds who had left their countries as a result of internal problems or conflicts to make their life in Australia; people who positively shape our communities. Desh founded Ondru June 2009. He focuses on developing and realising art projects as well as driving the strategic direction of Ondru.

gab picGabriella Bornstein


Gabriella’s passion about refugee issues stems from her family’s background and has led to her involvement with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

She has extensive public speaking experience having been involved in debating and mooting at national and international level over the past five years. She was recognised by Monash University Law Faculty as the best advocate of 2011.

Gabriella is currently completing a Science/Law degree at Monash University. She particularly enjoys training others in public speaking and advocacy skills and is responsible for training speakers at the ASRC.

Gabriella has also taught English and Numeracy in Tanzania and has recently returned from studying at King’s College London.


Rod Hysted – Committee Member
The Welcome Group Inc

The Welcome Group is for those who want to extend a welcome to refugees via every day acts and who want to help humanise the refugee debate. The Welcome Group are a non-political community focused group that aims to have a direct impact on the support of newly arrived refugees. The Welcome Group Inc deliver programs to support newly arrived refugees in the community with a focus on those on Bridging Visa E’s with no work rights. Community Team Member and Volunteer, Ayatullah will also be along to share his story.

book tickets button

Tuesday 29th April 2014 | 7pm (Doors open 6.30pm) |Bella Union Trades Hall – Cnr of Victoria Pde and Lygon St Carlton | Cost: Online: $12/$15 +BF | Door: $17/$20

Enquires: Angie Muccillo

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