A confrontational film on life in European refugee camps, where the boundaries of what is and is not ethically acceptable are increasingly pushed.
In a style reminiscent of older ethnographic and propagandist films, men and women are recorded in a direct, uncompromising manner – with no sound, in black and white and on 16mm film. Director Artur Żmijewski investigates the conditions under which immigrants live in four European refugee camps, including the infamous ‘Jungle’ in Calais. We see tents and primitive huts, interiors full of blankets and collected food (milk, sugar, flour) in dirty surroundings. Human life has been radically reduced to its most vulgar and primitive forms.
Certain actions and performative gestures are staged, such as a ‘donation’ of shoes and jackets, or painting the face of a black person white. Żmijewski intentionally uses the same aesthetics as propaganda films from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, making it painfully clear how we record (with black-and-white images, semi-amateur shots, high contrast) and consequently treat 'the other'. In a raw confrontation with poverty and helplessness, which we would prefer not to see, Żmijewski takes the game of what is and is not accepted ever further.
PL/DE, 2017, 14’, silent, starts every 15’.