Migrant: The Fazili family are migrants. They record mobile phones of their dangerous journey from Afghanistan via the migrant route in the Balkans and to an uncertain future in Europe.

Gray is a regular film critic in MODERN TIMES.
Email: carmengray@gmail.com
Published: 2019-12-31
Midnight Traveler

Hassan Fazili (USA, UK, Qatar, Canada)

filmmaker Hassan Fazili fled to Tajikistan with his wife and two daughters in 2015, after the Taliban sentenced him to death. He had run a cafe in Afghanistan capital, Kabul, which was a creative meeting place for artists. Fazili's progressive view - that men and women could sit in the same cafe - was considered a threat by the mullahs, not to mention the movie he had made about a Taliban leader.

Dangerous route for migrants

Refusal of asylum led to a risky return to Afghanistan. Following tips from a close friend that Hassan would soon be arrested, the family decided to embark on a 560-mile journey and seek security in Europe. Along the way on the dangerous migrant route across the Western Balkans to Hungary, they made recordings with three mobile phones. The footage was edited together into a full-length documentary, Midnight Traveler who, among other things, won the jury's special award for best photography during the world premiere at the Sundance Festival.

The film is an intensely personal and emotionally moving account of a family's survivability. It is also a testimony to the stubbornness and perseverance of the many other refugees who are forced to follow the same route.

A personal portrait

Many documentaries have been made about refugee crisis, naturally, given that it is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time. But Midnight Traveler stands out, not only with its closeness and warmth (it is doubtful if an outsider director would be able to bring us as close to this tight-knit family dynamic), but also with his raw and honest portrayal of how powerful and disillusioned a human being can be stay along the established refugee routes: There are no European rescuers, no utopian destination at the end of the journey, and we are witnessing a global systemic failure towards some of the world's most vulnerable. But it is not the style of the Fazili family - which is appealing, dry and humorous - to make political statements; the conclusion we must draw ourselves.

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"We have come to a place as bad as our own country." Director and refugee Hassan Fazili


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