Bilal sets off on an adventure-filled journey across Europe and wants to get to England to see his love who lives there.


Philippe Lioret


Philippe Lioret (original scenario), Emmanuel Courcol (original scenario) | 2 more credits »
13 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Vincent Lindon ... Simon Calmat
Firat Ayverdi Firat Ayverdi ... Bilal
Audrey Dana ... Marion Calmat
Derya Ayverdi Derya Ayverdi ... Mina
Thierry Godard ... Bruno
Mehmet Selim Akgul Mehmet Selim Akgul ... Zoran (as Selim Akgül)
Firat Çelik ... Koban
Murat Subasi Murat Subasi ... Mirko
Olivier Rabourdin ... Lieutenant Caratini
Yannick Renier Yannick Renier ... Alain
Mouafaq Rushdie Mouafaq Rushdie ... Le père de Mina
Behi Djanati Atai ... La mère de Mina (as Behi Djanati Ataï)
Patrick Ligardes Patrick Ligardes ... Le voisin de Simon
Jean-Pol Brissart ... Le juge
Blandine Pélissier Blandine Pélissier ... La juge aux affaires familiales


Bilal is 17 years old, a Kurdish boy from Iraq. He sets off on an adventure-filled journey across Europe. He wants to get to England to see his love who lives there. Bilal finally reaches Calais, but how do you cover 32 kilometers of the English Channel when you can't swim? The boy soon discovers that his trip won't be as easy as he imagined... The community of struggling illegal aliens in Calais is captured with authenticity, from the point of view of people who arrived there knowing nothing about France. This immigrant drama, with wonderful performances by the actors, is a strong story which uses documentary austerity and minimalist style to create a great emotional impact. Written by Warsaw Film Festival

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Friendship has no borders. True love has no limits.




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The neighbor of Simon who rats him out to the police, has a doormat with the word 'Welcome' printed on it. See more »


When Simon finds Mina in London, in the background is a sign for "Elephant and Castle Shopping Center" - in British English, the spelling "centre" would be used. See more »


Marion Calmat: Know what barring people from shops means? Want me to buy you a history-book?
See more »


Spoofed in Chashme Baddoor (2013) See more »


by Nicola Piovani
© 2009 Nord Ouest
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User Reviews

Are you now, or have you ever been...?
2 December 2010 | by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviewsSee all my reviews

When the Kurdish boy Bilal, on the run from war-torn Iraq, is caught trying to cross the border into Englad, he ends up stranding in Calais. Here he meets Simon(in the process of divorcing his wife), who is as taken aback by the 17-year-old's sheer determination to meet back up with his girlfriend, Mira, in London as we are, and agrees to teach him how to swim. Yes, this kid wants to cross the channel. This is about love, the criminalization of refugees and people fighting against seemingly impossible odds. I have yet to watch anything else by this director, but now I will be on the lookout for it. He correctly realizes that this story is powerful enough, and thus does not need any manipulation for us to be deeply affected by it. Everything in this is underplayed, merely showed, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. The music is minimal(that, or it was so subtle that I did not notice it most of the time) and subtle, with only a single use of a tense piece(and it was still not overbearing). Other than that, it consists of a soft, sad piano, a sort of "voice" to the helplessness of the situation. While the young couple are seldom granted even direct communication(it tends to be second-hand), we believe in their deep feelings for one another. The acting is excellent all the way, and the characters are well-written, and like everything else in this, credible. Granted, this only really shows one side to the argument... still, no one in this feels "evil". Another great thing, and one that also helps it be more removed from Hollywood, is that everyone speaks the language that makes sense for the situation. Their native tongue, or English if they're talking to someone who won't otherwise understand them. There is a little sensuality, moderate violence and disturbing content in this. I recommend this to everyone who can comprehend it(maybe no one under 11). 8/10

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French | Kurdish | English | Turkish

Release Date:

11 March 2009 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Bem-Vindo See more »

Filming Locations:

Calais, Pas-de-Calais, France See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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