This year’s Glasgow leg of the Africa in Motion film festival involved the culmination of several collectives of films; from those centreing on fashion, to short films. One such collective was their “Migration (mis)Translation” event: a direct cinematic response to the ongoing global refugee crisis.
The films involved in “Migration (mis)Translation” put forth the many perturbations which face migrants as they embark on arduous journeys in pursuit of a better life. Prior to the screening of the central piece of the night - Munir Abbar’s Paris Sur Mer - the event kicked off by showing three short films under the theme of migration with a focus on the encountered difficulties and stigmas experienced by people on the move.
Dealing with the issues of geographical dislocation, cultural transition and the crisis of belonging, the films collectively voiced a migrant perspective on the efforts to settle down in a foreign country. By showcasing an alternative narrative to the dominant Western viewpoint, the viewers became aware of the persisting biases and mystifications which resonate in the media.
This Migrant Business, a 6 minute semi-documentary by Ng’endo Mukii had arguably the most powerful effect on the audience. It gave an unsettling account of the intolerable despair felt by many who set out to escape poverty, in turn positioning themselves as vulnerable to the exploitative multi billion dollar industry of human smuggling.
It also commented on the many loopholes in immigration surveillance systems, laying bare the Western World’s tendency to cast a blind eye on the atrocious violations of human rights involved in illegal immigration. Paris Sur Mer completed the line-up by commenting on the immense obstacles encountered by migrants as they set out to cross the Mediterranean, simultaneously satirizing the dream-like allure of a wealthy European country and the naive belief that Europe is the land of limitless possibilities.
In essence, “Migration (mis)Translation” offered an eye-opening exploration of the liberties which we often take for granted. It emphasized the severity of the global inequality that pushes many to take extreme measures in search of a better life, only to encounter the rigid, unwavering borders of Europe which shut themselves away from those they deem to be undesirable immigrants.