Sharon Walia’s on-the-nose film is about those attempting to enter Europe to escape atrocity and the feisty volunteers who help them Young British director-writer-editor Sharon Walia grabs a couple of cameras and an intense desire for social justice as she documents efforts to help migrants attempting to enter Europe from Africa, the Middle East and other troubled, impoverished regions further afield. Plainly, this film has been made on the tiniest sliver of a budget, which unfortunately means that, at least for the cut I saw, Walia has been seemingly forced to recycle the same plaintive bit of synthesised sad music dozens of times. But the film makes itself practically criticism-proof thanks to the abundant evidence that it was crafted with a fierce commitment to truth telling, entirely righteous fury at the appalling abuse of refugees, and an ambition to help somehow. Although Walia interviews several representatives of NGOs dedicated to refugee relief – some of whom she gives a properly tough time about the system’s failings – for the most part the focus is on young volunteers, grassroots activists and the dispossessed themselves. Brendan Woodhouse, for instance, is a Nottingham firefighter who helps on boats that scour the Mediterranean looking for rafts and flimsy inflatables that have set out from Libya, packed practically to the point of sinking with migrants. The stories they bear are harrowing litanies, detailing atrocities witnessed, experienced and fled. In Paris, a few Brits living in a squatted warehouse distribute essentials to homeless refugees living on the streets – one girl, Rosie Browning, gave up working at Givenchy and studying fashion in order to do this, choosing altruism over the making of more “stupid art bullshit”.
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