Here's to People Power

This makes me as proud as punch! Below is the 'Box Office Scorecard' for all Australian films in 2017. Here's the full article. The angle is that Australian films are not getting a share of the Box Office, but I see a different story.

On the first page of the list is a little film (35th and 14th out of documentaries) that had no distributor, PR, advertising budget, producer, broadcaster, film festival or screen agency support. For most of the year it didn't even have a trailer.

All it had was you! Your energy, enthusiasm, and word of mouth. And some grit and determination on our side.

I like to think of the parallels between the film and the CRLC.

We both wrote to everyone and when we didn't hear back for a year we went ahead anyway. Because we knew it was the right thing to do.

Thanks to you all, I am very grateful for your support. And thanks to the refugees in Indonesia for showing us how it's done.

Here's to the power of community! Thank you.

HOw Donald trump inspired the staging post.

It's been exactly a year since Trump became the president of the USA. I had just spent a week at the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC), where his immigration ban directly affected Sedeqa, one of our best and most hard-working teachers. Frustrated I decided that The Staging Post and supporting the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre would be my personal protest. I doubled down on my commitment.

On Trump's anniversary, I want to celebrate and recognise the dedicated teachers and students at the CRLC, and also thank the President of the United States for his inspiration. (This is what I wrote at the time.)

Happy Anniversary Mr President.


Does The Donald inspire you too? We have started filming the second episode of The Staging  Post and could really use your help.

The initial initiative of the refugees in Cisarua, to start a school with two rooms and two hundred dollars, created a wave positive energy that is still rippling around the world.

We are going to follow our resettled 'graduates' and keep filming the stories in Cisarua. Khadim is travelling across America and Canada to visit the ex-refugees there. Janbaz, our new cameraman, is filming the ongoing story in Cisarua. Muzafar is speaking at schools and universities around Australia and I keep pulling the whole story together.

The successes are remarkable.

The CRLC kids are going straight into their age-appropriate grades without any English language training! 

Tahira got a job in two weeks in Canada and will enrol at Uni shortly.

Nagina has already finished her first year of an education degree at University.

Muzafar, Khadim, Amir, Matin, Tabessum, Zulfi and many others all have similar stories. We can't wait to share them with you. 

Unfortunately this is set against the backdrop of the ongoing refugee crisis and the limbo in Indonesia and we won't forget our friends there. Our commitment is to accompany them for as long as they need.

You can make a tax-deductible donation towards the 2nd episode of The Staging Post at the Documentary Australia Foundation.

This story has a long way to go yet.

Jan 23rd, 2017

After spending a week at our beloved Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre I am sitting at the airport with a renewed determination. What can we do to counter Trump, and an Australian Government who supports his policies? 

Well, I’m doubling down on supporting the CRLC. I’m coming back to Australia with new gusto and determination. Now it’s more important than ever to reach out from behind our government. We have to show the world that generosity of spirit, connection across borders and helping each other is the only way. Locking out defenceless people and bullying the most needy is not the right direction.

This week at the CRLC I spent the first few days watching family after family line up to register. 25 new names on the waiting list just this week! One family of six had arrived from Kunduz two days earlier. You could still see war in their faces and in the way they held their bodies. I was thinking, what can we do?

And then straight after that, the horror of this weekend and the realisation that this really is happening (The immigration ban).

One of our best teacher's is affected. After nearly four years of valiantly waiting in 'the queue’, and two years of volunteer teaching at the CRLC, she was days away from going to the USA. No one knows what will happen now.

Another family, after three years has been asked to come to the airport on the 31st. We can only hope.

Samie, who was 14 and living on the streets outside the UNHCR when we met, was due to leave today. I just heard he has boarded the plane. What will happen when he arrives? Will they send an orphaned 16 year old boy back to the Jakarta streets? You can read more about his story in the NY Times here.…/…

The school is running like clockwork under our fiercely determined and talented manager, Tahira. The students have advanced incredibly. Every kid comes up for a chat, in English as good as any kid their age.

The mornings are full of classes, buzzers and play while teachers prepare lessons in the lounge. There are 50+ older women in the afternoons learning ABCD. Online classes run downstairs and Australian volunteer teacher's voices ring out through Skype. The older students stay at school all day to work on presentations and projects.

I’m proud of everyone there, and proud to have helped make this happen.

I arrive back tomorrow morning and the work starts then.

Refugee led Workshops for schools and universities.

Over the past year Muzafar, Khadim, Tahira, Nagina, Khalil, Halima and the teachers and students at the CRLC have presented The Staging Post at many schools and universities. In 2018 we’d like to hold more events like this.

I was looking at the two photos below and realised they represent everything I hope for the film in Australia; for other Australians to ‘meet a refugee’. On the left is a photo from a screening at Holroyd High School, a Western Suburbs Sydney public school with 40-50% refugee-background students. On the right is from a screening at AschamSchool, an expensive and prestigious private school for girls in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

At Holroyd we watched the film sitting on the basketball court but the story was so close to their own experience they couldn’t look away. When Muzafar spoke afterwards the room was silent, even the teachers were hanging on every word. He was an instant hero to the kids as he told them; they were the leaders of tomorrow. That they were the one’s who could do something. It gave me chills.

At Ascham School, 600 privileged girls, our biggest audience yet, also watched the film in silence. When Muzafar walked on stage afterwards they stood and gave him a 3 minute standing ovation. Our most enthusiastic reaction yet! What did he tell them? That they were the leaders of tomorrow and that they were the ones who could do something of course!

We would love to repeat the screenings at schools and universities all around the country. We have plenty of ideas for fun, engaging workshops that involve lots of interaction between the kids in Indonesia and those here.

Please get in touch! The journey continues.

Thanks to the Australian Education Union Victoria there's a study Guide too, Find it here.

The perfect, inexpensive and unique Christmas present.

Why don't you give your friends and family a downloadable digital copy of The Staging Post? Wherever they are in the world the file will be available for them to download or stream forever.

They will be inspired by the hope, joy, resilience and courage of the refugees stuck in Indonesia, and afterwards they can go to to find out more. At $20 each, you could buy a dozen copies and skip the shopping mall entirely!

25% of the purchase price goes towards supporting the refugees in Cisarua.

CRLC Christmas 2017.jpg

Below is an example of the coupon. You can fold and put it under the tree, or email to friends and family you won't be seeing on Christmas day. 

Thank you all for your support over the years. We are determined to accompany the refugees for as long as they need it. Please take a look at our Christmas message and we look forward to seeing you all in 2018.

Lots of love

Jolyon and The Staging Post team.

The 2017 Christmas Card

Print it out for under the tree, or you send it to your family and friends around the world!

What a year it’s been for The Staging Post!

Muzafar, Khadim, Tahira, Nagina, Natiqa, Myself, and the staff and students from the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) have loved meeting you at the screenings around Australia. Watching audiences laugh, cry and connect with the refugee community in Cisarua has given us more enthusiasm and energy.

We love presenting the message of refugee resilience and capacity to Australia. What better way to bring our two communities together than spending an evening at the cinema watching their inspiring story. There are more screenings planned in the new year. If you’d like to hold your own cinema or community event please be in touch.

Muzafar and I are excited to be invited to speak at the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) in Thessaloniki, Greece, next year. We’re told it’s a big deal. We’ll be presenting the idea that ‘refugees can and should be a part of the refugee crisis solution’, and that ‘even though a community is weak, still they can do something’. We’re really looking forward to it.

Ever want to be an executive producer, producer of a film? Or just want to help? Then here’s your chance! 

We have begun filming the second ‘episode’ of The Staging Post and we are going to need some support. If you can, please make a tax-deductible donation at Documentary Australia Foundation. Sorry to always ask but this is just the beginning. This story has a long way to go yet.

This time I’ll travel with Khadim, Muzafar and Tahira as they meet the resettled refugee families from the CRLC. We want to hear about their experience and see how they coping. Most have gone directly into their age-appropriate classes without even taking ‘English as a Second Language’ classes. We know the CRLC had a lot to do with this and their new lives will be juxtaposed against the ongoing limbo for staff and students in Cisarua.

The day when Muzafar, Khadim and I met four years ago we all felt that something was going to happen but we could never have dreamed we would end up here. Now we have that same feeling again and we’re going to see it through!

Thanks for accompanying the refugees in Cisarua and for being a part of our journey.

Have a very merry Christmas. We look forward to meeting again in 2018.

Love and respect

Jolyon, Muzafar and Khadim.

Behind The Scenes - A glimpse into the making of The Staging Post.

Photos and Captions by Muzafar Ali.

The best reviews yet.

Each afternoon some of the older students at the CRLC work via Skype with an Australian teacher. After watching The Staging Post, one of the most committed teachers, Lynne Samson, had them write down their thoughts about the film. I have included them in full below.

I'm so proud of their writing ability. They know that they are capable, and can make a difference to their own lives.

Thank you and bravo to the online students and thanks to Lynne for her commitment and ongoing support.

This masterpiece shows.....that refugees have dreams that may come true if they use their talents.
— Amir
The Staging Post is the most amazing and incredible movie that I have ever seen
— Naheed
The film nailed the audience to their seats.
— Amir
a true, sad and exciting story
— Nasser

On October 12 the school invited the online class to watch a movie which had been made by Jolyon Hoff. What is it about? This was the question that chewed my brain.  I wondered if it was about refugees, about our school or about misery. Before the movie started I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The film nailed the audience to their seats. At the beginning, it seemed to be only about the school, but as it developed more of the life and struggles of the refugees was shown. Sixty-five minutes that showed the difficulties refugees experienced in their transit to Indonesia; that showed that refugees are not terrorists.

This masterpiece shows the world that refugees don’t take risks to damage and destroy a foreign country. It shows that refugees have dreams that may come true if they use their talents. The film shows the power of group work. One hand doesn't have much sound, but many hands can make much sound. The only ones that can help refugees are the refugees themselves. We have to believe in ourselves, and this is what the film shows. Amir

Yesterday I saw The Staging Post. It was really amazing for me but really sad as well. Our friends Muzafar Ali and Khadim said what I want to say, that some  people say to us many times that we are terroriss. They say that if you are not terrorists why did you escape, or leave your country. I say to them that like you, we are human. We are not terrorists. We had problems in our country. Nobody wants to leave their family or their country. 

So the film gives a message to the world that refugees are also human and they are also skilful. 

When I arrived here I couldn't say even a word. Fortunately now I have improved. Before the school started I hear that everyone was lazy and sad at home. Now everyone is busy at school and getting an education. We are proud of our friends that realized that refugees had skills and wanted to learn.

My message to the world is: please give us our rights and save our lives. Gulistan

The Staging Post is a film, directed by Jolyon Hoff with Muzafar Ali and Khadim Hussein was screened in Indonesia this week.  Yesterday we saw the film.  It is wonderful. It has many messages for the all people who see it.  One of the messages in the film is that refugees experience many difficulties in leaving their countries. The film shows that we are not terrorists and that by giving a hand to each other and working together we can do many things. One of the most important messages of the film is that refugees have a right to learn, to get knowledge and education. Nematullah

Yesterday I saw The Staging Post, a film was about refugees living in Cisarua It was really great and is a true, sad and exciting story. I am thankful to Jolyon Hoff, Muzafar, Khadim and Tahira who were in the film They have done a wonderful job to have the voices of refugees heard around the world. The film shows the difficulties refugees face every day.  It shows how refugees leave their country to shelter in a safe place and that they don’t leave their country for pleasure. The film shows how refugees accept bad situations to reach their target and find a better life. Naseer

The Staging Post is the most amazing and incredible movie that I have ever seen. It shows the asylum seekers’ problems and how the asylum seekers handle some of their problems. When I watched that scene when Miss Tahira told her story and talked about how she lives with many problems and supports her children, I really became sad.  When I heard her story, I saw what a brave and hardworking woman she is. The film shows that refugees aren't terrorists, but that we are hard-working people who want the best for our families. Nahid

Yesterday I saw The Staging Post. It was really amazing and a good way to spread the message about refugees. I hope the world understands us and sees that we are searching for a peaceful life. I hope they understand that refugees dream and desire a better life; that refugee people risk their lives to resettle in a peaceful country. I hope they get the message from this movie that refuges kids need more education and more facilities. Qais

Yesterday was the screening of The Staging Post in Cisarua. The film is the story of refugees who have had to leave their family and country. The most heart touching scene was when Khadim talks about his hat which has made by his mother and which he says, has the smell of his mother.

The Staging Post is a moving film and an effective film to show the world that refugees are not terrorist and not dangerous. It shows that they are the same as other people and they just left their countries because of the serious problems and difficulties that they faced.Zoya

We watched The Staging Post yesterday. Sixty-five minutes on the life of refugees in Indonesia. The struggles of being a refugee were shown in the movie. It also showed the happiness when some got news of being resettled. The whole movie was very touching, especially the moment when Khadim said goodbye to his family. It was also really great to see the women and girls experiencing freedom, and being treated as equals to the men. Mustafa







A Study Guide for The Staging Post

We're pleased to say that, thanks to our magnificent supporters at the Australian Education Union, we now have an official study guide.

The Staging Post is appropriate for all age groups and a wonderful way to meet refugees and start a discussion for Australian children. Children are our leaders of tomorrow our school screenings have been some of our most powerful! 

Please contact us if you would like to use The Staging Post as part of your school's curriculum. We can also arrange for your class to meet the refugees in Indonesia via Skype and, if possible, Muzafar can attend the screening.

His (Muzafar’s) story, humility and caring for the refugee community in Cisarua was overwhelming. Our students, staff and other guests were so humbled by his visit.
— Patti Frawley, Ascham School
The courage shown by all involved was incredible. I loved the stories about the women and their drive. Congratulations.
— Andrew Powell, Ascham School Principal

In cinemas in November and new trailer.

We're incredibly excited to announce that The Staging Post is having a Australian National Cinema release in November 2017. Muzafar and Jolyon will be presenting the film and we'll Skype in the CRLC, Khadim, Tahira and Nagina as they are available for the Q&A.

Use the code 'second' for a 20% discount if you are coming to see the film again. Bring the family and friends for a night of connection, community and hope

To celebrate and promote the release we have made this very special trailer.  Click below to watch.

Thank you all. Hope to meet old friends and new at the screenings in November.

(In Indonesia? Use this link to view

A lovely review from FilmInk!

Thanks to FilmInk for this lovely review of The Staging Post.

'The Staging Post is an important and uplifting documentary that reminds you that we are all human and capable of making change.'

Screenings next week in Fairfield, Sydney and Brisbane. Tickets available here.

  • OCT 5 Thurs     Powerhouse Youth Theatre, Fairfield    REGISTER HERE
  • OCT 6 Fri         All Hallows’ School Hall, Brisbane City  PURCHASE TICKETS 
  • OCT 7 Sat        BCC Cinemas Capalaba, QLD                 PURCHASE TICKETS
  • OCT 18 Wed     Ascham School, Edgecliff, Sydney         PURCHASE TICKETS

National cinema tour dates for November and December to be announced very soon. In Australia and also, very excitingly, Cisarua Indonesia!

Dendy Newtown 25th July.jpg

Feedback and screenings

Your feedback makes us deeply proud and energised. Thank you all for your support. Click the like button or share your favourite

We love getting the community together, having a night out, and seeing the film on the big screen. This week we'll follow up everyone interested in community screenings and we're planning some more 'headline' cinema screenings. If you'd like to support a screening please be in touch. With your help we'll to spread this story.

Thank you for supporting us, and accompanying the dedicated refugees in Indonesia.

It's about people. It’s a community.

One of the things we loved most about screening The Staging Post has been all the generous and enthusiastic feedback. 

From your applause in the cinemas, to your email and Facebook reviews, these individual reviews are the most important to us. We see every response as another person who has joined our family and connected directly with refugees in whatever small or big way they are able.

We started making them into ‘memes’ and I’ve attached them here. Let us know you favourite, share with your friends, send us an email with your thoughts. We read and cherish them all.

More screenings are being organised already. Please help share the news when they are announced. See you again soon.


Jolyon, Muzafar, Khadim, Tahira, Nagina and Natiqa.

Wow! We are astounded, encouraged, energised and grateful.

What an incredible whirlwind screening tour around Australia! We could not have hoped for better turn-outs, more engagement, and a greater outpouring of love and support. We are more determined than ever to build our community and want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We also want to acknowledge the refugees who are stuck in Indonesia. They are focussed on educating themselves and others in the community and are our heroes. We accept your applause and kind words on their behalf, and because we hope to provide further accompaniment and support to the communities in Indonesia. 

Scroll down for a selection of photos from the tour. 

If you'd like to make a recurring or one-off donation to the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre you can do that below. (Go to to find out more about the non-profit that supports the school).


Want to meet a refugee?

The Staging Post is a hit! We've sold out every screening! Emboldened, we've announced new July dates. Find out why audiences are calling The Staging Post is the 'feel-good refugee film of the year!'.

Brisbane, 22nd, Sydney 25th, Canberra 27th, Adelaide 28th, Melbourne 29th and Avoca 30th. Check the website for all the latest details. Come and 'meet a refugee' for yourself.

In the meantime here's a short story about how I met a refugee.

See you all soon. Love and thanks.


How to meet a refugee.

Four years ago I was living in Jakarta when Australia re-instated the mandatory offshore detention for people arriving by boat. Refugees have been the biggest news story in Australia for the past 15 years but I’d never met a refugee. I wanted to know more. Who were they? Where did they come from and what are they going to do know?

I discovered that the staging post for boats to Christmas Island was in a village called Cisarua (Chi-sa-roo-a), about an hour out of Jakarta, So I rented a car and drove up the hill. We wound our way along the Indonesian road, took a left turn, down a small hill, over a bridge, past a fork and, as we came around the next bend, the driver pointed “There’s a refugee!”.

I got out of my car, walked up to the man and stuck out my hand. He shook it firmly. “Hi, I’m Jolyon. I’m an Australian”  I said. The man was Hasan. He told me his english was not good and that I should speak with his cousin, Rizwana.

Behind him, in a small room, was the tall and softly spoken Rizwana. She made me tea and we spent the afternoon talking. It’s not until you meet people from a different world that you realise how little you know. I asked all the dumb questions.

Where were they from? Afghanistan. 

Why did they leave? They were a persecuted ethnic minority, Hazara, and also were Shia Muslim not Sunni.  (I can’t remember now if I even knew the difference back then.)

Were they going to catch a boat to Australia? No, because they had children and wouldn’t take that risk.

Did they know others taken a boat? Yes, the family upstairs had taken a boat, but the boat sank and some of the family died. The rest of the family had returned.

How did they get to Indonesia? They paid smugglers and came via Malaysia. What were they going to do now? Wait for the UNHCR to register them as refugees.

Rizwana gave me straight answers and eventually asked me some questions. When I told her I was a filmmaker she said I must come back and meet her brother, Muzafar, who was a photographer. I said I would. 

I returned a couple of weeks later. Muzafar was there with another young Hazara refugee, 17 year old Khadim. Muzafar showed me his stunning photographs from Central Afghanistan and Khadim showed me some footage he’d been filming on his mobile phone. It was raw, intimate and authentic footage of life as a refugee in Indonesia. 

We liked each other straight away and, that day, we decided to start a project together. Our creative work became the basis of our connection and through it we began to learn from each other. The first thing we did was edit Khadim’s footage into a short film which was watched online over 100,000 times - in both Afghanistan and Australia. This was the beginning of a community that we built together.

Khadim kept filming as the refugees started a school for their children, the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre. That school inspired seven others and became the centrepiece of, and sanctuary for, the community which grew around it. There are now nearly 1000 refugee children receiving education in Indonesia.

The whole transformative journey is documented in our documentary, The Staging Post, which is screening in Australia at the moment. 

The film will be presented by myself and Muzafar, who is now living in Australia on a Humanitarian Visa. Come and meet a refugee for yourself.

Rizwana at the CRLC

400 UTS Communications Students

Muzafar and I were lucky to be asked to speak to 400 1st Year Communication Students at UTS on Tuesday and Wednesday. We screened an extract of the film and then spoke at each of the tutorials afterwards. Afterwards we were interviewed on the University radio station, 2SER.

20 years ago I was a communications student. As I looked out at their faces I clearly recognised the looks on their faces. That 19 or 20 year old 'look of cool detachment' which masks their confusion, underlying feeling of insignificance and sheer terror at the world around them.

They grumbled as I made them sit together up front, their body language and reticence trying to prove they certainly had more interesting, exciting and important places to be and think about.

Then I loved watching their faces as Muzafar spoke. As they leaned forward in their chairs and quietly slid their protective laptop computers to the sides of their desks. They realised they were actually experiencing something, feeling something. Me too. Every time we speak, we learn something new ourselves. A new corner to our story connects up for us.

We came away with a lot of energy. Thanks Lucy, UTS and all the students.

Community Screenings of The Staging Post are coming

The word is getting out. New screenings announced. Get in touch if you'd like us to visit your neck of the woods.

We'll be in Newcastle on the 2nd of July at 4pm at the super groovy Royal Exchange on Bolton St. It's a great venue. The last time I was here we packed in the burly creme of Newcastle's surfing royalty to watch Searching For Michael Peterson. Very glad to be back at this great venue.

UTS will hold a screening on the 26th of July, during O-week. Screening room to be confirmed. Stay in touch on the Facebook page or the website for the latest details.

There's also been enquiries from Merimbula, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Perth. So hopefully some more announcements soon. If you are in those areas get in touch and you can help promote the events.

Look forward to meeting you all.




Yesterday Muzafar and I were invited to speak at the Ian Potter Gallery in Melbourne as part of Tom Nicholson's 'I was born in Indonesia' exhibition. To walk into the gallery and see all our friends on the video screens took our breath away. I was taken straight back to Cisarua. In the next room their lives and stories were played out over a giant diorama. What a joy to see, recognise and feel all the spirits in the moulded figurines.

One example. When Tom asked Farahnaz what she liked about Indonesia the most she said 'Hugs'. That their family hugged each other for the first time in Indonesia.

I love that the bravery of the refugees in Cisarua is spinning off in so many ways; artists like Tom creating powerful exhibitions and touring it around the country, Politicians visiting and entering Parliamentary Bills, Lecturers giving teacher training to the CRLC teachers, Journalists making news and TV reports. I just know it's going to continue and more people will join this movement.

One day I hope that the refugees in Cisarua can truly understand how far their simple act of teaching is being recognised and felt

Thanks Tom for giving this special work and thanks to the Ian Potter Gallery for having us. If you're in Melbourne go and see the exhibition. It's very close to the Melbourne Premiere of The Staging Post so make a day of it and visit the gallery too.

Tickets on sale now. Don't miss this.

Premiere Melbourne Screening of The Staging Post. 6:30pm on 18th June at Cinema Nova.

Do not miss this first public screening of The Staging Post in Melbourne. Muzafar and Jolyon will be there, and we'll Skype the school and Khadim in LA. Melbourne have been such great supporters of ours. Get in quick. This is going to be special. Tickets are already selling quickly.

The ground-breaking documentary, The Staging Post, is vital in shifting the understanding and debate in Australia to better understand the impact of our current policies. Tim O’Connor, Director, Refugee Council of Australia