When the Rug Is Pulled from under Our Feet
Amid the aggravation of the refugee crisis caused by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in the forced displacement of approximately four million people in the span of only two weeks, as far as Europe is concerned, providing education regarding the circumstances of refugees, their rights, and potential solutions has become more urgent than ever. This section addresses not only the status of the refugees, that is, of those fleeing from persecution and armed conflict, but also the phenomenon of migration, defined as the relocation of individuals due to reasons other than persecution and imminent danger. Migrants, like refugees, have their own complex reasons for relocating which often have to do with survival and the pressures of unfavourable economic, social, and political circumstances, as well as environmental circumstances such as those of the climate changes happening in their countries of origin, often resulting in shortages of drinking water and supplies, drought or famine.
The films in this section strike the most sensitive chord of our humaneness, as they document the fight for survival of the vulnerable, who are often met with prejudice and discrimination. Among the most heart-wrenching of stories lie those taking place in the refugee camps, as in “Little Palestine: Diary of a Siege,” a film which focuses on a camp for Palestinian refugees in Syria, where they must endure the hardships caused by the civil war, but also the famine sweeping through the camp, or as in “The Wild Frontier,” a film which dives deeply into the purgatory of “The Calais Jungle,” permanently shut down in 2016, where thousands of refugees have lived below the line of what is humanly decent, in a constant state of unsafety and waiting, somewhere between life and death.
To a series of more personal accounts belongs “Flee,” which, while being an animated film, reconstructs with visceral realism the traumatic memories of an Afghan refugee finally reaching Denmark, through all the obstacles and dangers of travelling clandestinely. Hard to pin-point, the essay films “Our Quiet Place” and “Chronicles of that Time” tend to look like lyrical elegies made by their authors for their wandering protagonists and dedicated to their inner resilience in the face of exile and alienation.
Even if the documentaries in this section cross multiple territories and the reasons for displacement vary, they are all united by the same recurring themes of uprooting, searching for an identity, and lost dignity. The section explores the stories behind the statistics concerning migration and refugees through films by authors who turn their attention to the most painful wound of our times, in order to help it heal.