The Guardian, 10 July 2015. Then I came by Boat is the winner of the Audience Award in the Australian Shorts section at the Human Rights Arts Film Festival.

This 10 minute film is a “riveting story of Tri Nguyen fleeing war torn Vietnam for the safety of Australia”. Tri speaks of his childhood in Vietnam, the harrowing journey to Australia where he was made to feel welcome under the leadership of Malcolm Fraser, his desire to thank Australians and today’s Operation Border Protection with asylum seekers.

At the beginning of the film, Tri describes how his grandmother would “wake me up and we would walk out into the field before the sun rose. She would put her hand on my shoulder and would always say, ‘Tri, keep your eyes on the sun and let the light of your life fill your life with light’.

“…But one day with my grandmother, instead of walking out into the fields to see the sun, she took me to a different part; out to the main road. And she was trembling. And tears started to fall from her eyes…”

Fifteen years after arriving in Australia, Tri returned to Vietnam.

“I arrived in HCMC airport… I didn’t recognise any of my relatives… Suddenly I recognised my grandmother… She embraced me… She starts touching my face and my shoulders. And she says, “Is that you Tri? Welcome home!”

The film is by Marleena Forward, a Melbourne-based filmmaker, photographer and writer. She is currently completing a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking and she also runs a blog called The Melbourne Local. Her film Then I Came by Boat was made in collaboration with the Victorian College of the Arts.

Related article

  • Thao Nguyen launches new book, We Are Here. AusCham Member, Thao Nguyen from EY Vietnam launches a book about her story leaving Vietnam to grow up in Australia.



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