Refugee crisis reflected at Cannes Film Festival
Vecdi Sayar – CANNESOne of the main topics at this year’s Cannes Film Festival seems to be the migrant issue. We have already seen two pictures on the topic and others will follow, among which one is the highly expected title of the year, Michael Haneke’s “Happy End.”
World famous actress Vanessa Redgrave arrived in Cannes to present her first film as its director at the age of 80.
In her film “Sea Sorrow,” political issues and personal issues are intertwined. She departs from the famous photograph of the dead body of three-year-old Syrian boy Alan Kurdi found lying on a Turkish coast, and travels to different cities of Europe to talk to refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Guinea.
Redgrave’s main intention is to influence the public opinion in Europe, so that people could exert pressure to change the policies of their governments, especially the U.K. She conveys her opinion through interviews with refugees as well as officials.
She underlines the fact that the ideals put forward in various conventions such as the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” adopted by U.N. after the Second World War, the “European Convention of Human Rights” declared by European Parliament in 1951 and the 1989 “U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child,” are being undermined by European governments.
To bring forward a wider appreciation to the issue, Redgrave contrasts the present day events with events of the Second World War using documentary footage and interviews with politicians and human rights defenders such as British politician Alf Dubs who had escaped Prague as part of “Kindertransport” in 1939.
Redgrave remembers her own childhood when she was evacuated from London and separated from her family during war.
She accuses the British government of being irresponsible and not accepting refugees to her country.
Redgrave hopes the film will give people the feeling of “I can’t carry on with my life and not do something.”
She said she will not direct another film, but will spend time to help the film be seen.
Another film on the topic came from Hungary. Young director Kornel Mundruczo, who gained international acclaim by his film “The White God,” a fable about the friendship between a young girl and her dog and their fight against an intolerant system.
This time Mundruczo presents us a young refugee with a magical-metaphysical ability; the ability to fly.
This is a parabola speculating on various themes such as the immigrant crisis, terrorism and the loss of faith in modern society, as well as being a social critique of today’s Hungary.
This complex film received negative reviews after the press screening, but undoubtedly has its own charm.
It is not possible to understand the film completely, although Mundruczo gives clues during the course of the film several times. In the opening titles, he refers to the fact that planet Jupiter has more than fifty moons - first ones discovered by Galileo - and one of them seems to be convenient for human life, according to scientists. This moon is called Europa.
Mundruczo does not intend to make a refugee film, but he chooses a refugee from Syria, Murat Aryan, as his main protagonist. Among the main characters of the story include a police officer from the immigration department and a doctor involved in unethical affairs to make money.
The director tells us that the immigrants – who are unwanted in our countries - have some qualities and values that we have already forgotten.
In my opinion, “Jupiter’s Moon” can be considered as a critique of the modern society deprived of its elementary values, and an appeal to face our misconceptions and to respect immigrants. They may not be angels, but they can still fly!
Mundruczo leaves us with uncertainty and uneasiness at the end of the film. Of course, this is an intentional choice by the director, but has its own defects. Too many topics treated at the same time give the feeling that the director could not choose his main interest.
But this definitely is an original; a creative director full of imagination and capable of telling unconventional stories. Something we miss in our days.