Because of the messy bit of geopolitics we find ourselves in one of the big issues today causing strife and abuse across the globe is immigration. As some parts of the world find themselves continuously in conflict, with the disastrous effects of climate change and the fact that governments across the globe are veering towards the right with little regard to safety and well being of citizens, especially those who voice displeasure, the amount of refugees has grown exponentially. People are fleeing and then finding it hard to find a safe place to live. Europe has pretty much been the central place for this ongoing struggle.
Immigrants have been painted by those in power as the “other”. People who are not law abiding and therefore dangerous. All with the same brush stroke. We should fear newcomers. As such they are callously sent back to their home countries where their lives could be in danger. Here is a film which attempts to get under the surface and really find the human story.
At first glance British immigration officer Wendy (Lena Hedley – from television’s Game of Thrones) seems like a tough nut to crack. Like not many refugee claimants are going to be accepted by her and her hardened heart. This seems especially true after her supervisor, Philip (Iain Glen – from television’s Game of Thrones), tells her that if she does well with the high profile case she has just been assigned that she will be in for a promotion. She has been given this case due to her track record of working fast and rejecting most claims, no matter their heartbreaking stories.
Wendy is to interview Haile (Ivanno Jeremiah – appeared in episodes of Doctor Who and Black Mirror), of the African country of Eritrea, to see if his refugee claim is legit. Normally very clinical and efficient, the interview seems to drag on much to Philip’s chagrin as he thinks this is an open and closed “no” case.
What he does not know is what is going on in Wendy’s life. Not only is she divorcing, but seems to have lost custody of her young daughter. She is devastated. In a confluence of her life and Haile’s story (which is told in flashbacks during the interview), Wendy finds it very difficult coming up with a decision about the man seated across from her.
A strong message coupled with excellent acting makes for Anthony Woodley’s (Outpost 11) film to be a quietly powerful one. Immigration/refugees is a rather polarizing subject today. People tend to be firmly on one side or another. So a film like this will either affirm your held beliefs or piss you off. Either way, this rather quiet and controlled film, will garner a reaction. In some cases, a rather strong one.
Because of the strong writing, whether you are an immigrant or not, the story will be relatable. This is because it is a very human story. Emotions are very much just under the surface, especially with Wendy, but they are there. On both sides. We often just see people who do jobs like Wendy’s a cold hearted paper pushers. This film shows us they are just as human, apt to flaws and bad days getting in the way, as everyone else.