In February 2002 in the Shamshatoo Refugee Camp in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, there are 53,000 refugees living in sub-human conditions since 1979 with the Soviet Union ... See full summary »
In February 2002 in the Shamshatoo Refugee Camp in the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan, there are 53,000 refugees living in sub-human conditions since 1979 with the Soviet Union invasion and 2001 with the USA bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. The family of the Afghan Enayat and his cousin Jamal decides to send them illegally to London to have a better life. They hire coyotes to smuggle the cousins through Iran and Turkey to Italy and finally London hidden inside trucks and containers. However, the long journey locked in a container with other families separates the cousins and on 09 August 2002, Jamal has his asylum application refused in London. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The film had two working titles before settling on its final name. While it was being shot, it was known as "The Silk Road". This was primarily as a cover, since officials in many countries were told the film was a documentary about that historical subject. Later, it was known as "M1187511", which was the UK Home Office's file number for the real-life Jamal's application for refugee status. Before its release however, the title was changed to "In This World". As Michael Winterbottom describes on the DVD, the title came from a line in the film where Jamal was translated as saying that a central character was dead. Jamal informed Winterbottom, on seeing this, that it was inaccurate. What he had actually said was that the man was "no longer in this world". Hence the film's title. See more »
Motivated by a news story about 58 Chinese immigrants found suffocated in a container at Dover, In This World by Michael Winterbottom is a passionate tribute to the nearly one million refugees a year who are willing to take enormous risks to seek a better life. Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival, the film follows two boys, Jamal, 16 (Jamal Udin Torabi) and his older cousin Enayat (Enayatullah) on a perilous overland journey from an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan to seek economic security in the West. Shot in documentary style with a digital camera strapped to the back of cinematographer Marcel Zyskind, the film is fictional but is drawn from a true story and mirrors the desperate conditions of untold thousands whose faces we never see.
The boys are Pashtun who have grown up at the Shamshatoo refugee camp in Pakistan along with 53,000 other Afghanis, victims of the Russian-Afghan War or the American war against the Taliban. The politics of the refugees are not discussed and the film is basically a human story that crosses political and religious lines. Since Jamal speaks some English, Enayat's family asks him to go with him to London where he can apply for asylum as a refugee. From Peshawar, Jamal and Enayat travel by bus to Quetta and over the Iranian border to Taftan and by bus to Tehran. They do not have proper identification and must contend along the way with border guards, police, thieves, smugglers, and numerous changes in currency and language.
The boys bribe a customs officer with a Walkman but when ordered off a bus to Tehran, they meet a group of Kurds who offer them the hand of friendship. There is not much dialogue and the boys mostly improvise the funny stories and small talk as they endure days and weeks of waiting for their next ride. In a sequence of great beauty shot at nighttime using infrared photography, the Kurds help the two boys cross the icy mountains to Turkey, ducking the gunfire of armed soldiers at the Turkish border. Together with an Iranian and his wife and baby, they are then brutally forced to travel inside a shipping container for a 40-hour voyage from Turkey to Italy, a journey where only the strong survive.
In This World is not just a road movie but a human document of urgency and commitment that allows us to experience the humanity of the people some contemptuously refer to as "economic migrants" or "asylum seekers". While it is not a political statement, it is clearly as a slap at the recent hardening of European immigration policies. On a broader scale, however, the film can be seen as an apt metaphor for life. It tells us that the journey is exhilarating but fraught with unimagined obstacles at every turn, yet there are friends who are there for us along the way and, when we feel overwhelmed and hopeless, there is an aching beauty that fortifies us with the strength to keep going.
16 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?