They left their homelands seeking sanctuary but found themselves being held on a tiny Pacific island. Now, after years on Manus Island, they are forging new lives in North America.
101 East follows the remarkable journey of two refugees – Amir and Imran – as they start new lives on the other side of the world.
Imran, a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, is adjusting to the frigid winters of Chicago.
It has been more than seven years since he fled persecution in Myanmar as a 16-year-old. Along the way, he was held hostage by people smugglers and arrested in Indonesia before making his fateful journey to Christmas Island. Australian authorities then sent him to Manus. Now, thanks to a refugee deal with the United States, he has a job and is finishing school.
“I’m free, that’s all that matters to me. People have been welcoming and I am loved. So, it’s home, it definitely feels like home,” says Imran.
Meanwhile, his Iranian friend, Amir, has received a warm welcome in Canada.
Amir was 14 when he left Iran. Now 25, and living in Vancouver, Amir has a job in tourism and is set to study law. His good fortune flows from a chance meeting with a Melbourne nurse who worked on Manus and talked her Canadian-Australian parents into sponsoring him.
Filmed over 18 months, 101 East documents the jubilation and challenges the men experience as they navigate their newfound freedom.