November 4, 2014
Healing, a film by Craig Monahan starring Hugo Weaving and Don Hany, will air on ABC TV on Sunday November 23 at 9.15 pm.
Healing is a powerful and moving story of redemption, the discovery of hope, and the healing of the spirit – in the most unlikely place, for the most unique men, through the most unusual catalyst.
Inspired by true events, the Australian feature is written and directed by Craig Monahan, the multi‐award winning director of The Interview, winner of best film at the AFI Awards.
After 18 years in prison, Viktor Khadem (Hany) is a man who has almost given up on life. He is able to serve out his final year at Won Wron, a low security prison in regional Victoria, where Senior Officer Matt Perry (Weaving) has established a unique program to rehabilitate broken men through giving them the responsibility for the rehabilitation of injured raptors – beautiful, fearsome proud eagles, falcons and owls.
Perry has deeply personal reasons for the project: not so long ago he suffered the catastrophic loss of his only child to illness; the child who shared his love of birds. So when Healesville’s Head of Raptors suggests a rehab project with Won Wron’s inmates caring for the injured birds, Matt grabs it.
But the project crystallizes the day Viktor arrives from maximum security. He comes with a heavy reputation, so Matt thinks if he puts Viktor in charge of the birds, the others will be too afraid of him to sabotage the project.
Along with Viktor arrives the withdrawn and fragile Paul Atherton (Xavier Samuel). Their reluctant new roommate Shane Harrison (Mark Winter), has his own reasons for not wanting Viktor around, but that Viktor is infinitely more feared than inmates like Warren (Tony Hayes) occurs to Shane the day Viktor first meets his eagle, Yasmine, a magnificent but badly injured creature with a six foot wingspan.
When Matt’s offers Viktor the job of running the Raptor Rehab Program, where he is able to choose his own crew, Viktor has a hard time with being asked to do something, let alone being allowed to choose who to do it with. When he chooses Paul (to protect him) and Shane (to keep him close), it’s the first decision Viktor’s made for himself in eighteen years.
Meanwhile, social worker Michelle Thomas (Justine Clarke) is looking to Viktor’s longer term parole, and tracks down his son, Yousef (Dimitri Baveas), who hasn’t seen his father since he was a child. Viktor’s astounded that Yousef has agreed to see him, and his long lingering sense of shame and guilt almost overwhelms him. But any hope of reconciliation seems lost when Yousef, angry and confrontational, tells his father he will never forgive him for not going to his mothers’ funeral.
When Yasmine is handed to Viktor to nurse through the long journey back to freedom, it means more than even Matt has realised. To Viktor, Yasmine’s not merely a bird of prey: in Iran where he comes from, she’s a sacred hunting bird and he feels an emotional link with the wounded creature. Yasmine’s also joined in the newly built prison aviaries by hawks, and an injured barn owl, who provides solace for Paul, a young man with emotional problems of his own.