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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 »
This is Jamal, calling from London. Yes... yes, I got to London. Enayat? He's not here. He's not in this world.
See more »
In This World charts the journey of two Afghan refugee brothers who leave their camp in Peshawar, Pakistan to seek a new life in London. The epic voyage of Jemal and Emayat is an archetypal refugee journey from East to West; in a film lasting just 90 minutes, director Michael Winterbottom weaves together a taut and powerful narrative, encapsulating the encounters and journeys-within-journeys that characterise refugee lives. Relatives of the two brothers give all they can to send them on their way; 'agents' of migration variously help and hinder their journey; policemen fleece them at the border crossings. From Peshawar to Sangatte (where would-be migrants to Britain crowd the French coast), the coherent and transfixing narrative brings together the names and places associated with countless refugee journeys.
On Jemal and Enayat's journey there are so many glimpses of the world around some enlightening, others mysterious that you could watch this film again and again and be fascinated by new details each time. The early stages of the journey reveal the stunning emptiness of Central Asian landscapes, with vast plains stretching out towards impossibly far-off mountains. The journey across Asia reveals some very different and occasionally alarming road usage, whilst the briefest of pauses in rural Iran captures a little of the traditions involved in welcoming and sending-off guests. Among the most striking asides in this film for me is the footage of a cow being slaughtered by the halal method; just a few eye-opening moments are afforded to this episode.
The film is, for all these fascinating glimpses, tightly woven around the story of Jemal and Enayat. The portrayal of their difficulties and sufferings is devastatingly powerful; the jerky, panic-stricken footage at the Turkish border and the dark and claustrophobic nightmare of the shipping container remain long and vivid in the memory. Although Winterbottom rarely lets the pace of the film slacken indeed, he hardly has the option in such a wide-ranging and ambitious undertaking snatches of conversation, bickering and camaraderie develop the two brothers' characters: they feel like real people. Jemal's humorous stories are particularly important in this regard, and, for me, the parodying of creation myths in these tales also suggests a much-warranted poking of fun at Western audiences, who often take a condescending interest in 'quaint' traditions.
Through the use of a voice-over in the early stages of the film and recurring resort to a map to help chart the brothers' journey, Winterbottom adds overtly documentary-style elements to his film. These elements seem to me to jar with the rest of the film; there is no real need to add them to an otherwise immersive and realistic picture. On the other hand, whilst the musical score by Dario Marianelli seems jarring to begin with, it soon becomes an essential part of the film: a theme to match an exhaustingly emotional experience as we watch the migrants on their journey.
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