Today is #WorldRefugeeDay!

People have been forced from home by conflict, persecution or natural causes for thousands of years. Right now there are almost 4 million refugees in Turkey alone. Here’s a selection of films that sheds light on this issue from Pera Film’s programs.

1- We Rule the Streets! program: Bomb It 2

Director: Jon Reiss, USA, 73’, 2010, English
Screening Year: 2014

Bomb It 2 explores the indigenous street art scenes in Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Perth, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Chicago, Austin and the Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank. Using a ultra compact camera and sound package, Reiss travelled by himself to film artists and writers representing a wide range of cultures, styles and beliefs including Alex Face, Ash Keating, Beejoir, Bon, Darbotz, Foma, Great Bates, Husk Mit Navn, Inspire, Killer Gerbil and Zero, Klone, Know Hope, Phibs, Mars, MIC, Sloke, Stormie Mills, Thor, Twoone, Vexta, Victor Ash, Xeme, and Zero Cents, among others.

2- Sarajevo Now! program: Flotel Europa

Director: Vladimir Tomic
Denmark, Serbia, 2015, 70’, color, Bosnian
Screening Year: 2015

In 1992 a wave of refugees from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina reached Denmark. With existing refugee camps completely full, the Red Cross pulled a giant ship into the canals of Copenhagen. The ship, Flotel Europa, became a temporary home for a thousand people waiting for decisions on their asylum applications. Among them was a 12-year-old boy, Vladimir, who fled Sarajevo with his mother and older brother. They spent two years in limbo at Flotel Europa. Two decades later, director Vladimir Tomić takes us on a journey of growing up on this ship filled with echoes of the war — and other ordeals of an adolescent. This coming-of-age story is juxtaposed with personal VHS archive material shot by refugees who shared the “space-time vacuum” of the Flotel.

3- Sarajevo Now! program: Belvedere

Director: Ahmed Imamovic
Cast: Sadzida Steic, Nermin Tulic, Emina Muftic
Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2010, 90’, color, Bosnian
Screening Year: 2015

Ruveyda is like most residents of the Belvedere refugee camp: a widow yearning to forget the tragedy of war, fifteen years after the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia and Herzegovina. But unlike those around her, she spends most of her days in a bittersweet routine of caring for her extended family, and searching for the remains of her husband and son—both of which offer a precarious hope that is one day tested when her nephew is selected to participate in a reality show in a former enemy enclave. An emotionally rich portrait of war’s troubled aftermath, director Ahmed Imamović’s film paints an uncommon image of patience, faith, love, and above all, forgiveness.

4- Pier Paolo Pasolini program: Prophecy: Pasolini’s Africa

Director: Gianni Borgna, Enrico Menduni
Italy, Morocco, 77’, 2013, black & white, Italian
Screening Year: 2015

The film explores, through poetry and cinema, Pasolini’s love for Africa and his hope of finding there the authenticity of peasant life and revolutionary force he had sought in vain in his native Friuli and in the villages around Rome. It was an Africa with frayed and indefinite boundaries, one that was born – in the poet’s words – in the same suburbs described in his first film Accattone. This is where Prophecy starts out: the place where the Roman lumpen proletariat used to live is filled today with thousands of immigrants from outside Oedipus Rex  and The Gospel According to St. Matthew testify to the poet’s love for Africa, as does the conversation in Paris with Jean-Paul Sartre on the Vangelo secondo Matteo. Above all, though, it was in La rabbia that he depicted an Africa bearing all the marks of injustice and showing all the signs of hope. These too were to be disappointed: Africa was a repository of irremediable contradictions that would erupt into degradation, into dictatorships, into the massacres of yesterday and today, whose violent images are contrasted with the sober and stark ones of Pasolini, in black and white. The prophetic quality of Pasolini’s observations continues to disturb us, in particular when he describes- thirty years before it actually began to happen -the exodus of Africans on ramshackle boats and their “conquest” of Italy. But the prophet was destined for a premature death, like Accattone, to which the beginning and the tragic end of the film are dedicated.

5- “Cultures of Resistance Documentaries” program: Life is Waiting Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara

Director: Iara Lee
Western Sahara/United States/Spain, 2015, 59’, color, English
Screening Year: 2015

Forty years after its people were promised freedom by departing Spanish rulers, the Western Sahara remains Africa’s last colony. While a UN-brokered ceasefire put an end to armed hostilities in the territory in 1991, the Sahrawi people have continued to live under the Moroccan armed forces’ oppressive occupation, and what peace exists in the area is fragile at best. Tens of thousands of Sahrawis have fled to neighboring Algeria, where over 125,000 refugees still live in camps that were intended to be temporary. In spite of these difficulties, a new movement, with youth at its center, is rising to challenge human rights abuses and to demand the long-promised referendum on freedom. Today’s young generation is deploying creative nonviolent resistance for the cause of self-determination. In doing so, they’ve had to persevere against a torrent of conflicting forces. While risking torture and disappearance at the hands of Moroccan authorities, they’re also pushing back against those who have lost patience with the international community and are ready to launch another guerrilla war. This film examines these tensions as it chronicles the everyday violence of life under occupation, giving voice to the aspirations of a desert people for whom colonialism has never ended.

6- “Homeland and Exile: Cinema of Amos Gitai” program: Disengagement

Director: Amos Gitai
Cast:  Juliette Binoche, Liron Levo, Jeanne Moreau, Barbara Hendricks, Dana Ivgy, Hiam Abbass, Tomer Russo, Israel Katorza, Yussuf Abu Warda, Uri Klauzner
Israel, France, Germanay, Italy; 115’, 2007, color
Hebrew, English, French , Arabic
Screening Year: 2013

Ana is reunited with her estranged Israeli stepbrother, Uli, when he travels to France for the death of their father. She decides to return to Israel to search for the daughter she gave up at birth 20 years ago. Crossing frontiers by car, train and boat, Ana and Uli are caught up in the turmoil and emotion of the military-enforced disengagement of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005…Disengagement clearly refers to the Israeli government’s current policies of withdrawal from Gaza and the forced destruction of illegal settlements established by Israeli citizens in the region’s disputed areas. But, in the imaginative hands of Amos Gitai, disengagement takes on another, much subtler, more personal meaning. As the two levels of significance speak to each other, Gitai employs all his considerable artistry to explore the term both emotionally and intellectually. The result is one of his finest creations.

7- “Women on Borders” program: Beyond the Hills

Director: Christian Mungiu
Cast: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur, Valeriu Andriuta, Dana Tapalaga, Catalina Harabagiu, Gina Tandura
Romania, France, Belgium, 150’, 2012, color; Romanian
Screening Year: 2013

Alina returns to Romania from Germany, hoping to bring Voichita—the only person in the world she loves and was loved by—back to her. But Voichita has found God—and God is a hard lover to be jealous of. Alina wishes to take Voichita away from her remote monastery and back to Germany, but as it comes time to leave, Voichita doesn’t seem ready to go. Alina decides to stick around to convince her friend, a small decision that will spiral into dark and disturbing places. The newest film from Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Beyond the Hills was inspired by an alleged case of demonic possession in Romania in 2005. With the same unflinching view of his homeland that was on display in his last feature, in Beyond the Hills, Mungiu cements his place as one of the most challenging and vital filmmakers in the world.

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