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French films illuminate global refugee tragedy

18 June 20150 comments
Omar Sy, lead actor in Samba

Omar Sy, lead actor in Samba

French cinema is receiving international acclaim for increasingly highlighting the struggles of immigrants and refugees throughout the world.

Shorts and feature films have been popping up in festivals and award ceremonies that show the plight of those seeking a better life in France.

Last month at the Cannes Film Festival, the French thriller Dheepan won top prize, the Palme d’Or.

The film follows three desperate people that escape the Sri Lankan civil war to end up in the rough outskirts of Paris.

The movement has also reached Australian shores, educating audiences throughout the country on the harsh reality experienced by millions.

The Human Rights Art and Film Festival, which has just finished its national tour, premiered the short film Undocumented that highlights the legal battles of immigrants in French detention centres.

The most recent contribution to the movement that’s currently showing in Melbourne cinemas is highly acclaimed Samba.

A French comedy-drama casting light on the plight of immigrants struggling to stay in their new homes, Samba, is both tragic and uplifting.

The film is a realistic portrayal of the never ending inconveniences, minuscule to immense, that immigrants must endure every day.

The lead character, Samba, (played by Omar Sy) moved from Senegal to Paris ten years ago in search of a better life and a chance to provide for his mother and sister back home.

Unfortunately, like thousands of other immigrants to France, he becomes caught in a web of bureaucratic red tape and uncertainty.

We are exposed to the limbo that countless other immigrants and refugees accept as normality. Common advice is to steer clear from train stations at night or any situation where he could be asked for ID.

While the audience is sympathetic to Samba’s situation, we are also shown his flaws, quirks and mistakes that bind him to the rest of us.

The growing trend in French films make audiences see asylum seekers as neither un-empowered, nor illegitimate ‘illegals’, but as humans just like the rest of us, searching for a sense of belonging.

Ruby Brown
AMES Staff Writer