Film Series: Promised Land

Kelly Photo: © Stéphanie Régnier

The Suspended Lives of Refugees and Migrants

14 November – 13 December 2016

Since 2015, Europe has seen an increased influx of people from outside its borders, of people fleeing war, persecution or poverty. This development has come to be termed European Refugee or Migrant Crisis and has dominated debates around immigration laws in Europe, including in Britain. What gets blocked out by these debates and the concern about our security, whether physical or economical, is that the people who need and demand refuge and help have escaped from living conditions that are far less stable, secure and supportive than ours and that, by escaping these conditions, they often put their lives at risk. Often given no choice, they leave their family, friends and homes behind to find that though their destination may be clear, their arrival is often delayed and uncertain, their return impossible.
It is the state of suspension between departure and arrival, the sense of life in a loop that the seven films in this series focus on, but also the refugees’ and migrants’ persistent hope to escape it. The films follow them on their journeys (Foreign), attentively listen to their experiences (Kelly), or have them comment on their own mobile footage (#MyEscape). They depict lives on prolonged hold in refugee camps in Pakistan (A Walnut Tree) and Thailand (Site 2), reminding us of the millions of refugees and migrants outside Europe. The films range from conventional documentaries, to more experimental films, such as Qu’ils reposent en révolt, which observes the sparse and exposed lives of refugees and migrants in Calais over years, or Havarie, which builds a complex soundscape from an encounter between a tourist cruise liner and a ship-wrecked refugee boat and thus distills the disparity between our secure and stable lives and those of the people trying to come to Europe.
This film series is associated with the two-part event series Promised Land, and the screening of Havarie on 3 December will take place as part of the symposium at Central Saint Martin. More information.