May 6, 2014
A HEALESVILLE Sanctuary program that connected rehabilitating birds with rehabilitating prisoners is set for the big screen this week, with the release of the new film, Healing.
Healing focuses on the life of Viktor Khadem, a prisoner nearing the end of his sentence, who takes part in a program that ran between Won Wron Prison and Healesville Sanctuary.
The program allows the men at the prison, who are themselves undergoing rehabilitation and on the verge of being released, to help with the rehabilitation of injured birds.
Throughout Healing, Viktor, who is broken down from his years in the correctional system and for his crime in the past, is the test case as part of the program, under the guidance of case worker Matt Perry, played by Hugo Weaving.
Director and writer of Healing, Craig Monahan, said he first got the idea for the film from his co-writer Alison Nisselle, who showed him an article on the program in 1998.
“We thought there was something there worth pursuing – to see if there was a film in it,” he said.
Mr Monahan said that Healing was not a prison film, but rather a film that focuses on relationships and the metaphors that exist between the broken men and broken birds.
“In the end, it’s about him (Viktor) taking responsibility,” he said.
“That’s part of the psychology of the film – to know who you are before you can help anyone else – that’s what they’re all doing.”
Don Hany, who plays Viktor in the film, said it was interesting to work with wedge-tailed eagles and to visit Healesville Sanctuary as part of the film’s production.
He said that Viktor underwent a colossal spiritual journey throughout the film, and was guided through it by his relationship with the birds in the rehabilitation program.
“It struck me, when we were visiting that place, that it’s harder to leave it (prison) for a lot of these guys than it is to go in,” Mr Hany said.
“It’s an investigation into how frightening freedom can be when you don’t feel like you deserve it.”
Mr Monahan said that characters in the film were based upon real people involved in the program in the past.
Two days of filming took place in the Healesville Sanctuary, and Mr Monahan said he loved visiting the Yarra Valley for the project.
Healing will be released in cinemas from 8 May.