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The Left-To-Die Boat: Review 1


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The tale of the African asylum-seekers who in 2011 set sail in a fragile inflatable from revolution-torn Libya in the hope of reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa and safety, is a phenomenal one. Seventy-two men and women set sail; just eleven survived the two-week-long ordeal, which only ended when the boat was washed back on the Libyan shore. How on earth to tell a story that was all in the past, recollected in tranquillity, and still keep it sharp, painful, dramatic and present?

The trouble with big, long programs is that, to stay sharp, they constantly have to find clever, new ways of doing things. Somehow, I felt the [almost] 60-minute distance was a tough one to fill with this story. However, the importance of the story, the horrifying lack of humanity on the part of officialdom and of the Libyan military who finally threw the asylum-seekers in jail despite their desperate condition: all make this a feature that had to be told, and told well. It goes without saying that Sharon Davis did all of this and we owe her a great debt of gratitude.

The Left-To-Die Boat won a United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Prize and was shortlisted for a Sony Academy award (UK), the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards and the Australian Human Rights Awards.