Attempting to escape the tyranny of the military junta, thousands of Burmese flee their home country in hopes of finding a better future. Trekking through jungles and crossing rivers, these refugees arrive “undocumented” in Malaysia to face even greater challenges. They’re subjected to police brutality, along with physical and sexual abuse. Displaced, with no place to call home, the migrants also endure deep emotional anxiety and fear. Canadian director/activist Desiree Lim’s two-part docu-drama, entitled Home, reveals their troubling stories through testimonials and reenactments.
Shocked when she first learned about the severe human-rights abuses committed on Burmese refugees, Malaysian native Lim decided to bring them to light for the international community. She enlisted the help of a childhood friend, Malaysian-based social activist Mary Chuah, who provides refugees with protection and support. This partnership enabled her to work directly with the refugees, as they share their painful narratives, and putting themselves at risk by doing so. Inspired by their spirit and determination, Lim breaks away from the traditional portrayal of refugees as faceless victims, instead presenting non-sensationalized images and stories of survival.
Home is quite a departure from Lim’s past body of work, which consists predominantly of queer experimental comedy dramas. But Lim’s background in journalism and her career as an independent broadcaster and filmmaker equipped her to direct this clear-eyed and serious documentary about race, diaspora, national identity and human rights.
Following the screening, Lim will be in attendance for an artist talk and a presentation of clips from her past work.
– Heather Keung
Producers: Mary Chuah, Desiree Lim
Camera: Albert Hue
Desiree Lim is a true cultural hybrid. A second-generation Chinese born in Malaysia, she grew up there as well as in Japan, where she obtained her B.A. in journalism at Tokyo’s Sophia University. Lim started her career in television as the director and associate producer for news and documentaries at TV Asahi in Tokyo. Her cross-gender, cross-cultural short and debut Japanese TV feature, Sugar Sweet (2002), opened to sold-out audiences at major LGBT film festivals in North America, Europe and Asia. Currently, Lim divides her time between Vancouver and Tokyo. For more information on Home, visit projecthomemalaysia.com.