IDFA 2016, Stranger in Paradise

Total serendipity, this one. After ‘The Graduation,’ I had nearly 2 hours to kill before my next show. I saw that the main theater in Tuschinski was open with lots of people in it so I wandered in and then this started. Great, why not? It was a very interesting and odd approach to the struggles Europe is going through regarding refugees.
The film is presented in 3 acts with a prologue and an epilogue. The protagonist plays a different role in each of the acts. In the first, he plays Bad Cop – “Do you know how much each of you cost the EU per year? €26,000! How do you ever expect to pay that back? And there are 1.5 million of you! No, we can’t do it. Go back to your own country and solve the problems there yourselves.” In the second, he’s Good Cop – “We Europeans can’t imagine how brave you’ve all been to leave your lives, family, livelihoods, to escape evil in your own countries. And after all, we colonized most of the world and made you work for free, so isn’t it time we gave some of that back to you?” And act three, he shows how discriminating the laws are – “If you’re from India, leave, we won’t tkae you, unless you’re homosexual. I believe your story, so you can stay. I don’t believe yours, so you need to leave.”
As a story-telling device, it was effective and interesting. However, I didn’t understand how it worked with the refugees. These were real people in a real asylum center; did they know they were playing a part? Did they believe both the Good Cop and the Bad One? Was he really telling the truth to the ones he told could stay?
Interesting and clarifying about our double-standards.


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