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From "success story" to chaos and destruction

But Now is Perfect
Regissør: Carin Goeijers

But Now is Perfect tells the story of how a small hospitable village in southern Italy opened up the community to refugees seeking a better future in Europe. But it is also a story of loss and tragedy.


Many refer to the ongoing refugee situation, where people on the run try to find security in Europe. The news often reports on numbers and data. However, there is less knowledge about the individual stories of those concerned. Relief organizations move in and out of refugee camps in an effort to find good solutions to the severe number of humanitarian crises. But what is really going on at the individual level? And what can Europeans do to make a difference and offer help?

Amsterdam-based filmmaker Carin Goeijers found that Riace, a village in the Calabria region of southern Italy, was very hospitable to newcomers. The city's mayor, Domenico Lucano – along with a large part of the locals – made an effort to keep "their" foreigners before being expelled by the Italian government. He even arranged for food vouchers to be distributed to the refugees, so that local shop owners could make sure they met their basic needs until public funds were available.

But the hospitable and refugee-friendly mayor was placed under house arrest in October last year, on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Among the allegations was that he had encouraged fake marriages between local residents and immigrants. Lucano nevertheless receives support from many Italians, who say that "the only crime he has committed is to be a fellow human being". Both the people of Riace and the immigrants support his policies, which have been shown to benefit the village as well as the newcomers. "Fortunately, there are many people outside Riace who support the village," Goeijers told Ny Tid.

But now it's perfect.
But Now is Perfect.

Dramatically ending an escape life

We follow Becky – the main character portrayed in this documentary. She has fled her native Nigeria in an attempt to avoid forced marriage with an elderly man. There is a deep and touching bond between her and various people in the small Italian town. Nearby scenes in local stores and local homes support this.

However, Becky and many others eventually have to leave Riace, resulting in a fateful end for her. Her history in Europe ends in a catastrophic fire in which Becky dies while trying to save her documents. The tragedy occurred just after she had created a temporary home in Riace. Yet, before the accident, she was again sent to a refugee camp, San Ferdinando. In a sense, this truthful tale of a lonely woman in search of a better life is perfectly, but sadly, ironically portrayed in the film.

A realistic story

Following the world premiere at IDFA in November 2018, Goeijers returned to the picturesque town where she witnessed the friendship that grew between migrants and local groups. Residents of Riace were invited to a special screening of her award-winning documentary.

"People who knew Becky personally were especially moved, but also pleased that the film tells 'the history of the migrants'." Director Carin Goeijers

"It made a strong impression on the residents when they saw Becky talk, laugh and cry again. After the show, most people came to me to talk, greet or hug. People who knew Becky personally were particularly moved, but also pleased that the film tells 'the history of the migrants', "says Goeijers. She adds that people also appreciated that the film "tells a realistic story instead of an idealized story."

But many refugees have had to leave Riace in recent months. According to Goeijers, the remaining ones are now developing (together with Domenico Lucano, who lives in exile in a neighboring village) with a plan for a way to continue working with migrants and to accept them.

“Everyone supports this idea, because they want to see migrants come back. They think life in the village is pretty quiet now, "says Goeijers.

The debate over politics and legislation and the emergence of voices that are against assisting "strangers" in gaining a sense of human dignity can, in a joint dialogue, help both sides to form ideas and policies that can bridge the contradictions. But it's not perfect yet – far from it.
Moust is a filmmaker and journalist living in Amsterdam.

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