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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 poses a terrible challenge to the boys. 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.
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Eclectic English film-maker Michael Winterbottom has produced his finest work to date with 'In this World', a pseudo-documentary account of the attempted journey of two Afghani refugees to London. This film's outstanding achievement is the sense it conveys that despite the ubiquity of television, mobile phones and the English language, this is still a big, poor and very beautiful world. I can't praise the cinematography highly enough - almost every scene is stunningly composed, especially the nighttime crossing of the mountains (shot without the use of additional lighting), yet none feels contrived. Characterisation is minimal, but the viewer feels emotionally bound to the journey. As a rich westerner, I am used to hopping on a plane and flying wherever I wish, but Winterbottom nonetheless succeeds in making me appreciate the culture shock encountered for his protagonists in travelling merely from one side of Pakistan to another. Their journey, of course, is no sort of holiday.
Winterbottom steers clear of direct politics, but we see (along with great suffering) numerous examples of the small ways in which human beings can be nice to one another - the contrast with the xenophobic hatred of the Daily Mail is unspoken but clear. Who knows if the real-life Jamals of this world find happiness? But the message for us is that we forget our shared humanity at our peril.
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