ME and Ophelia

Monday, March 29, 2004

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Compelling film "In This World" written by Tony Grisoni

Yesterday at 9pm, BBC2 TV showed an unforgettable film "In This World", starring Jamal Udin Torabi and Enayatullah Jumaudin as two Afghan cousins living in Pakistan who set out for Britain in search of a better life.

British director Michael Winterbottom's disturbing gutsy road movie bravely challenges the 'send them all back' bile of the tabloids. By focussing on the journey taken by two Afghani refugees - and following their hazardous overland journey from Pakistan through Iran, Turkey, Italy, France and the UK, in search of a better life in London - he allows us to see them as human beings and not just as statistics.

About the film:

Winner of the Golden Bear, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Peace Film Prize at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival, Michael Winterbottom's In This World tells the story of two Afghan cousins who embark on a refugee's clandestine odyssey from Pakistan to London.

Shot on digital video with a non-professional cast, In This World harnesses the immediacy of nonfiction techniques to create an urgent, intimate account of human beings driven by the fundamental urge to create a better life. It is a film that is both timely and timeless, and affirms Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, The Claim, Welcome to Sarajevo) as a one of cinema's strongest, most original talents.

February 2002, in the northwest province of Peshawar, Pakistan, near the Afghan border. Sixteen-year-old Jamal, an orphan, lives in the sprawling Shamshatoo refugee camp and earns less than $1 a day working in a brick factory. Jamal's older cousin, Enayat, lives in the bustling heart of Peshawar, where he works at his family's market stall. At a wedding banquet, Jamal learns that Enayat's family has decided to send him to London, where prospects are brighter.

Jamal knows a man who can facilitate the journey, whom he later introduces to the family. Jamal is also quick to point out that since Enayat doesn't speak English, he will need a companion who does - like Jamal. The hefty upfront fee for the journey is paid in dollars and rupees, and Jamal and Enayat join the estimated 1 million people annually who place their lives in the hands of people smugglers. Lacking the cash for two air journeys, Jamal and Enayat must take the longer, more dangerous overland route, which will take them from Asia to Europe.

From Peshawar, they board a southward bus for Quetta, where they are to contact the fixer who will arrange their passage into western Pakistan. From here on, nothing is certain. The cousins endure days of tedium and anxiety, followed by sudden, frantic movement. They must decide whom they can trust, and try to parse unfamiliar languages in foreign lands. From Tehran, they travel into the country's Kurdish region, bordering Turkey; they cross the border at night, hiking in the bitter wind while armed soldiers patrol below.

Once in Istanbul, Jamal and Enayat face the most harrowing portion of the journey: 40 hours sealed in a freight container bound for Italy, crowded with other immigrants and refugees. Many suffocate in their metal cell before they reach Trieste, Italy. But for survivors, the journey must continue, through Italy and on to the refugee camp at Sangatte, France.

And at last, in June 2002, the final leg: stowing away underneath the chassis of a truck, which will link up with a freight train headed for the U.K.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 3/29/2004
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