Set in regional Victoria and inspired by a story written by journalist Geoff Strong, Healing narrates the bringing together of prisoners at low-security Won Wron prison (now closed) and birds of prey at the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary.
Inmates were given the responsibility of rehabilitating injured birds in its “Raptor Rehabilitation Program”. The program helped the birds return to the wild, but also exposed prisoners to an environment that tried to facilitate genuine caring and nurturance.
In the film, Viktor, a lifer who fears being released because he has nothing on the outside, meets younger prisoner with many issues and a lot to learn. Prison officer, Matt Perry, who initiates the program of caring for the injured birds, makes Viktor its supervisor. He engages the younger men to assist.
“The jury was impressed with how this film pits the soul of a human who has been confined, against the spirit of an animal who has been caged after being hurt. Both animal and prisoner seem to come to a mutual understanding of what it means to leave their confinement behind, and to experience freedom again,” said jury chair Fr Richard Leonard.
In a time where so many films are about revenge and retribution, Healing looks at conversion, forgiveness and reconciliation.
“Although there is some coarse language that might offend some views, the jury was unanimous that Healing was the Australian film that said the best things about human dignity and human nature. It is hope-filled and inspiring, redemptive and enjoyable,” Fr Leonard said.
The jury also commended Rolf De Heer’s CHARLIE’S COUNTRY.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ, the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office is available for interviews or comment on 0409 120 928.