Director Genna Chanelle Hayes' debut feature film was borne from a real-life romance.
"I'm not really in control of my stories, things happen in my life ... that information filters through me and into a script," she told AAP.
Ms Hayes met and fell in love with a Nigerian man in London, which led to her researching the Boko Haram conflict and writing the script for Akoni, about a Nigerian refugee.
The film's main character escapes conflict in his homeland but struggles in Australia, until he meets a woman who opens her home, and heart, to him.
"It's a story of healing, it's about coming together, seeing ourselves in each other, and recognising that we need each other to build a healthy future for ourselves," Ms Hayes said.
The romance that inspired the film ultimately did not work out, but Akoni recently won several prizes at the Australian Screen Industry Network Awards, including best actor for Kit Esuruoso.
The film also stars Rashidi Edwards, who was born in Congo but grew up in Tanzanian refugee camp as a teenager before coming to Australia in 2010.
A graduate of the Adelaide College of the Arts, Mr Edwards said he hopes the film will make people aware of the realities of racism in Australia.
"Especially people who have come from African countries or refugee backgrounds, we get judged for being nothing more than what we look like really," he told AAP.
The independent film was produced in Australia, Ghana, Nigeria and the UK, and is being launched around Australia during Refugee Week ahead of premieres in New Zealand and west Africa.
Ms Hayes hopes it will raise awareness about the issues facing almost 100 million refugees, and said it has received a warm reception so far.
"Every person of colour and refugee who has seen this film in Australia has loved it, because they see themselves in it and they don't very often see their journey represented, if ever, on Australian screens," she said.
Akoni will premiere with Q&A events across Australia during Refugee Week June 19-25, before its release in New Zealand July 14 and west Africa August 11.
Australian Associated Press
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