A harrowing account of Europe's migrant crisis. A family of Syrian refugees separated by the borders of Europe, fight to be reunited as they migrate from Syria to Germany.
Interview with Director Alexander Farrell and Producer Francesco Loschiavo
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
ALEXANDER: It was important, I believe, to steer the world away from all of the chaos and the negativity that was being documented by the media. We made it to allow these men and women the chance to tell their own story from a human level.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
ALEXANDER: It’s an opportunity to step inside someone’s shoes who, before, would have been completely forgotten. Nazem is a remarkable man, to be perfectly honest, and unless you are to see it, you simply cannot begin to comprehend the hardship he and his two boys faced.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
ALEXANDER: There are two sets of themes within Refugee – we called it the micro and the macro in the editing room. The micro is the story of the Alali family and what the Refugee crisis looks like for individuals and families who are displaced. This was established to ground the audience in what the crisis looks like for everyday people, which you could call a 'personal' theme touching on universal truths we can all relate to: aspects of family, the need to provide etc. The macro is the broader themes that you often see on the news: mass migration, family displacement, integration and assimilation, politics etc. This we covered by visiting different locations across Europe and getting the perspective of different organisations and workers within the crisis. This, you could say, is more of the 'universal' themes that the news tends to cover. We tried to focus on the personal to ground the audience in what this means for everyday people.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
ALEXANDER: Well, a script would have been a fine thing. It was continuously evolving because we were documenting what we were seeing, we would never know what each day would bring. We had ideas of what we wanted but that, of course, is never the way with this particular subject. I also initially set out to make a story that followed multiple people across Europe but then after meeting Nazem all of that changed and it is now solely focused on one family.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
FRANCESCO: Our premiere was last week at DOC NYC and it went very well. We received a very warm reception from the audience both nights with lots of detailed questions about the status of the family and the crisis. I think having the audience see personal stories from refugees in a different light than how it is often portrayed in the media has been effective at changing people’s perceptions, and has sparked a healthy discussions about the crisis.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
ALEXANDER: There is always one person that manages to stump you. I actually took the movie off of the timeline and scrapped it two months out from our deadline because someone said to me “I wasn’t expecting that, I don’t think this is the movie you set out to make Alex”. I then reworked everything.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
FRANCESCO: We are looking to raise awareness about the Refugee crisis and the over 60,000 refugees still stranded in Greece. We hope that by seeing our film audiences will connect with Refugees stories and see them as people, not statistics.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
FRANCESCO: We are currently on our festival circuit, which started with our premiere last week at DOC NYC, with more on the horizon in 2019. We signed with Endeavour Content this year and have partnered with War Child and Unicef as our official charity partners. At this stage we are looking to generate press coverage about the film to help spread the message about the crisis and how you can support our charity partners, as we continue our festival circuit and arrange for distribution.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
ALEXANDER: I hope that the film helps audiences see refugees as people who have the same needs and wants as themselves. That they are fathers, mothers and children too. I hope that by hearing and connecting with their stories we change the perception about Refugees in Europe.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
ALEXANDER: What if this was your family? What if this happened to you?
Would you like to add anything else?
FRANCESCO: To find out about screenings of the film, or to support our official charity partners and friends that we met on our journey please visit: https://www.refugeedoc.net/.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
ALEXANDER: Well, I have recently signed as a director with Ridley Scott Associates, so working on a few commercial projects over there, whilst continuing to promote the film and tour the festival circuit.
FRANCESCO: I've got a small slate of other projects in development right now. Probably the one I'm most excited about is a new documentary about the impact of Social Media usage on children.
Interview: November 2018
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A harrowing account of Europe's migrant crisis. A family of Syrian refugees separated by the borders of Europe, fight to be reunited as they migrant from Syria to Germany.
Length: 87 Minutes
Director: Alexander Farrell
Producer: Francesco Loschiavo
About the writer, director and producer:
ALEXANDER FARRELL is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker. Alex is a New York Film Graduate, and is signed to RSA films.
FRANCESCO LOSCHIAVO is a successful independent filmmaker, and founder of production company Envoi Entertainment.
Key cast: Nazem Alali, Raf'aa Alali, Hamoudi Alali, Ahmed Alali, Rasha Abousalem, Rezan Rasheed
Looking for: Film Festivals
Facebook: Refugee the film
Funders: Private Investors, Corporate Sponsors, Kickstarter, and the BFI.
Made in association with: Produced by Envoi Entertainment in association with Amarok Pictures and Fu Works.
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Keep an eye on RefugeeDoc.net for more details.