Tall Fences, Taller Trees

Arash Kamali Sarvestani

Kaleidoscopic account of the making of the film Chauka, please tell us the time by Behrouz Boochani and filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani. Boochani is held in the detention center for asylum-seekers on the island Manus. Sarvestani is in the Netherlands, raising a toddler and trying to make the collaboration work.

Since 2013, the Australian government detains asylum-seekers on the islands of Manus and Nauru. Among them is Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish-Iranian journalist who became a best-selling author with No Friend But the Mountains, written in text messages on a phone smuggled into the Manus camp. Together with Iranian-Dutch filmmaker Arash Kamali Sarvestani, he made the film Chauka, please tell us the time, with images of the camp shot on the same phone.

During the making of Chauka, the two exchanged many voice messages. These messages – which in Sarvestani’s words ‘are like gold’, as they take such a long time to get through – are heard throughout Tall Fences, Taller Trees. Shots from Boochani’s phone alternate with scenes from Sarvestani’s home life, resulting in an almost surreal, disorienting poem piece. An indictment of the treatment of refugees, a meditation on filmmaking, a poet’s manifesto – and much more.


Arash Kamali Sarvestani
Country of production
Netherlands, The
88 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
Sarvin Productions