September 22, 2003

in this world

in this world onesheetin this world
dir. by m. winterbottom

A gritty film made in faux-documentary style (in a rare case where its employ is poignant), this engrossing fictional film takes us into the lives of two Afghan refugees as they make the courageous and tragic journey from their camp in Pakistan to London in hopes of a better future.

I don't know exactly why I was drawn to see this film. I don't remember what I was expecting. But I found this film to be very satisfying, as it fed my interest in continuing to inform myself of what's going on in the wider world.

In school growing up, we were never taught about displaced peoples of the world, or how there are tens of millions of people who've been forced to flee their homes and live in ramshackle camps with little or none of the basic amenities of life. Our awareness of that idea was limited, in the public school curriculum I was taught at least, to the plight of "our ancestors" who fled religious persecution overseas to a land of opportunity. A land where they would be freely accepted, and in turn, displace a whole other nation of individuals.

In today's age, that profound opportunity is no longer as "easy" as pulling up stakes and getting on a boat. There are no longer large continents or nations that would tolerate a mass influx of immigrants. These people have nowhere else to go but to refugee camps, funded largely by public international organizations, that are filled beyond capacity with families and orphans struggling and scraping to stay alive, to not succumb to rampant illness or violence against them by guerilla factions.

This film doesn't address any of these larger issues, or by any means dare to proffer a solution. However, it allows us a brief stay with two courageous young men, boys, if you will - who, with the help of funds and services negotiated by their hopeful relatives, take on a journey of thousands and thousands of miles through completely unknown and highly dangerous territories.

This film is not easy to watch for reasons both technical and emotional. It was shot on digital video with a skeleton crew of a director, a cameraman and sound recordist. They had neither the use of artificial light nor dollies nor professional actors, and sometimes needed to resort to less-than-legal means of moving these two real-life refugees across borders. But at this film's heart is the prevailing will and humanity of these two boys - will and humanity which is often robbed of people in far less traumatic circumstances. The line between fact and fiction is blurred in a way I wasn't prepared for.

After having viewed this film, I certainly feel a new sense of reality in the face of a society which both breeds and clouds our vision with consumerism.

I urge you to seek this movie out. With thanks to the Sundance organization, "In This World" and several other films with little hope of wide distribution are being viewed in several major cities across the U.S. If it doesn't come to a theatre near you, a video release is likely. I now humbly step down from my soapbox. ;)
posted by julie at September 22, 2003 02:39 PM


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