A young Iraqi refugee seeks refuge in Bulgaria in Haider Rashid’s heart-stopping drama.
In a time where global commodities, capital and people flow at unprecedented rates, migration condemns millions to a life of uncertainty and disposability. It’s with a strikingly minimal amount of dialogue that Haider Rashid’s Europa poignantly evokes how those bearing the brunt of state violence enter a physically and emotionally soul-destroying state of purgatory.
Adam Ali gives a harrowing, physical performance as Kamal, a young Iraqi man attempting to cross the Turkish border into Bulgaria. He flees into the dense Bulgarian Forest and is thrust into a living nightmare, spending three days and three nights in constant motion in order to evade a ruthless gang of armed vigilante ‘migrant hunters’.
Within this skilfully choreographed, kinetic fight-for-survival story, the air feels heavy with a looming threat, and Kamal’s pain, fear, desperation and distress are gut-wrenchingly conveyed through the claustrophobic camerawork which calls attention to itself.
Saturating the highly immersive and esoteric sound design with his protagonist’s erratic breathing and anguished cries, Rashid imbues his film with a disquieting suspense. Some long takes undermine that impact as they linger on a point for longer than necessary, and although the ambiguous ending may be frustrating for some, it’s a crystal clear, realistic evocation of our protagonist’s precarious future.
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Published 15 Mar 2022
Tags: Adam Ali Europa Haider Rashid
Depictions of migrant experiences in art are now more urgent than ever.
Closer to an agonising experience than is an enjoyable watch.
Portrays unsettling realities to a visceral and succinct effect.