Sydney Film Festival doco has a Kiama connection

Rosemary Kariuki (right) with coorganiser Franklyn McBruce on their visit to Kiama

Eighteen months ago, we reported on 35 migrant women coming down to stay with local families for the weekend.

Members of Kiama Welcomes Refugees, the Gerringong/Kiama Catholic Church, Gerringong Anglican Church and Gerringong Uniting Church welcomed the women into their homes.

A feature documentary made about the weekend, Rosemary’s Way, has been announced as a finalist for the 2020 Documentary Australia Foundation Best Documentary Award.

The award is part of this year’s 67th Sydney Film Festival: Virtual Edition & Awards.

Rosemary’s Way celebrates a charismatic change-maker, Kenya-born Rosemary Kariuki, who has made it her mission to empower migrant women in Sydney, enticing them out of cultural silos to connect with each other and wider Australian society.

“I’ve known Rosemary for over 15 years, and was happy to help her bring some women down here to visit,” says Maria Baden of Rose Valley.

“She coaxes isolated women from cultures as diverse as Iraq, the Congo and Peru, to tackle new adventures. She’s a real force of nature.

“I think of her as a mother hen, gathering anyone who needs help beneath her wings.”

The film highlights the disparity between the concept and the reality of a multicultural Australia for many refugees and migrants.

“A lot of these women had never been invited into an Australian home before,” says Maria.

“It was a great experience for them and their hosts.”

The film touches on the themes of multiculturalism, community, kindness, gender equality, women’s rights, single parenting, family violence, domestic abuse, friendships, loneliness, and mental health. In doing so, it aims to create empathy and stimulate action in broader society to create a more welcoming Australia.

As the director Ros Horin puts it, “Rosemary is an inspiration. If one person can achieve so much on her own, what might we all be able to achieve together.”

Details: Rosemary’s Way will be available on the Sydney Film Festival website – http://www.sff.org.au – from June 10-21.
The winning film will be announced at the SFF Virtual Awards Ceremony on Thursday 18 June.

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