Review - Hope Road

Review by Rod Freedman

Hope Road Dir: Tom Zubycki | Australia

Tom Zubrycki is one of Australia’s most consistent and prolific documentary filmmakers. Shooting over five years, Tom follows the quest of South Sudanese refugee and Sydney resident Zacharia to build a much-needed mudbrick school back in his remote home village. After an initial visit and a hero’s welcome, a new outbreak of fighting prevents him returning to Southern Sudan, but he won’t give up his dream.

He's enthusiastically supported by a small band of Aussies, including Janet, a TAFE teacher who accompanies him on an ambitious fund-raising walk from Brisbane to Sydney. The power of a film shot over such a long time is that we see the ups and downs of this refugee trying to make his way in a new country while remaining closely connected to the old one. Other personal complications arise to challenge Zac’s indomitable spirit. Especially heartening is the reception Zac gets along the way from school students and country communities. It’s a serious, funny and warm film.


Review - Mountain

Review by Rod Freedman

Mountain Dir: Jennifer Peedom | Australia

Due for a cinema release later in the year, this must be seen on the big screen. Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa 2015) teams up with Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra to explore our fascination with mountains and high places. Narration written by British writer Robert Macfarlane and voiced by William Defoe takes us through themes of history, wonder, risk taking, obsession, madness, peril, disaster and above all, the grandeur of the landscapes that most of us will never get to see first hand.

The cinematography is breathtaking and there are plenty of sequences narration-free for us to simply appreciate the wonders of the earth and the soaring, original music. A unique celebration of mountains and the people who revere, revel and rampage in them.


ROD FREEDMAN is an independent director and producer whose documentaries have won many Australian and international awards and screened in dozens of film festivals. Rod is particularly interested in stories about people and their life’s journeys

What I Love About ... Sherpa

Sherpa: Trouble on Everest    Dir: Jennifer Peedom | Australia

What I loved about Sherpa was its strong narrative and character arc. Peedom and her team set out to document the 2014 climbing season from the Sherpa’s point of view. What they never anticipated was following the tragic loss of sixteen Sherpas and the impact of that loss on their families and community.

The film shows how the people on Everest - the tour operators, the climbers and most importantly the Sherpa community – react as the tragedy of the 2014 climbing season unfolds. The balance between the commercial interests of the tour operators, the expectations of the climbers and the well-being of the Sherpas is a central tension explored throughout the film.

The other great strength of the film is the focus on a central character – Phurba Tashi Sherpa. A distinct character arc emerges as we follow Phurba Tashi Sherpa’s journey during the 2014 climbing season and learn about his family and their feelings on his dangerous job. He is struggling with his desire to continue climbing and his family’s fears for his safety. Following his story, the audience is drawn into his world and this fosters an empathy and understanding for the challenging work the Sherpas undertake.

Visually, the film is stunning. It contrasts the breathtaking beauty of Everest with the increasing tourism on the mountain that is likely to compromise this magnificent place. The shot of a line of climbers on the mountain, reminiscent of visitors at a theme park waiting for a ride, is a powerful illustration of how Everest is changing.  The film demonstrates the extent to which the mountain and the Sherpa people are exploited in the pursuit of the tourist dollar.   

If you have ever had a passing interest in what happens in the climbing seasons on Everest, Sherpa is the film to watch. Visit the Sherpa website to view the trailer and buy. 


By Bec Fleming